The death of a respected civil servant in Louisiana is being mourned and two suspects are in custody this week in the wake of a fatal hit-and-run crash.
According to the Baton Rouge Advocate, 33-year-old Albert Franklin and 30-year-old Ashley Chaney were arrested early Tuesday morning on suspicion of striking Zachary reserve police officer Christopher Lawton with a moving truck the previous evening and driving over his body without stopping to check on him.
Franklin is expected to be charged with first-degree murder, hit and run, simple criminal property damage and fugitive from police. Chaney was booked into jail on suspicion of obstruction of justice.
Lawton, 41, who was was also the city’s deputy fire chief, had served alongside other local police without pay for about 10 years.
Zachary Police Chief David McDavid cited Lawton’s service to his community in describing him as a “double hero.”
At the time he was hit Monday night, reports indicate he was in the parking lot of a Walmart store in Baker, where he and another officer were engaged in an undercover investigation into a man accused of striking his girlfriend in the face with a rifle.
McDavid explained that the fallen officer had undergone all of the training required for any officer in the agency.
Lawton’s commitment to public service has been heralded by numerous local leaders, including Zachary Mayor David Amrhein, who called the victim a “giver” who was dedicated to making a positive difference.
“Chris is the epitome (of) what it means to be a part of this community,” he said.
Last year, he was honored by the city’s fire department and has previously been recognized for his service, including a lifesaver award he received in 2014 for his action while on vacation in Mexico in response to a man in need of medical aid.
Zachary Fire Chief Danny Kimble is one of many in the community who say Lawton’s presence will be missed.
“Chris was a leader to the men below him, he was a leader for the fire service,” Kimble said. “Chris was very dependable. If he told you he was going to do something, you could count on it going to happen.”
[Featured image: Christopher Lawton/Zachary Fire Department]