Two people were arrested after a Zachary firefighter and part-time, volunteer police officer was run over by a vehicle and killed Monday night outside the Walmart in Baker while working an undercover police operation.
A Zachary firefighter and reserve police officer was killed Monday night after he was run over by a man he was trying to arrest, becoming the …
Albert Franklin, 33, and Ashley Chaney, 30, were both arrested in connection with the incident that killed reserve officer Christopher Lawton, East Baton Rouge Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Casey Rayborn Hicks said early Tuesday. Zachary Police Chief David McDavid said Lawton was an unpaid reserve officer, though fully certified and trained.
Franklin, 4979 St. Louis St., Zachary, was booked into East Baton Rouge Parish Prison on counts of first-degree murder, hit and run, simple criminal damage to property and fugitive from Zachary police. Chaney, 2424 Toledo St., Baker, was booked on obstruction of justice.
McDavid said Tuesday that Lawton and another unnamed officer had attempted to apprehend Franklin after receiving information about his location Monday night. The Zachary Police Department had filed an arrest warrant for Franklin on counts of aggravated second-degree battery, felon in possession of a firearm and aggravated assault of a firearm. McDavid said Franklin was accused of using an AR-15 to hit his girlfriend in the face that weekend.
McDavid said Chaney was not the woman who accused Franklin of assaulting her with the weapon, but McDavid did not immediately know the relationship between Franklin and Chaney.
Late Monday, East Baton Rouge Sheriff Sid Gautreaux had told reporters the officers were following up on a warrant for felony drug counts. McDavid clarified Tuesday the initial intent of the undercover officers approaching Franklin, but said the Sheriff's Office will investigate the ensuing attack that killed Lawton.
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Witnesses told deputies that the officers were contacting people inside a U-Haul truck parked in the Walmart parking lot, 14507 Plank Road. The U-Haul truck was seen “fleeing the scene at a high rate of speed” while one of the officers hung on to the passenger side of the vehicle. The officer was seen falling from the moving vehicle and being struck by its rear tires, deputies said in the arrest report.
Surveillance video from the scene showed one officer approaching the passenger side of the vehicle and a second officer approaching the driver side. The driver of the U-Haul accelerated forward and turned the vehicle “in an invasive manner,” striking the police officer on the passenger side, according to the arrest reports.
The U-Haul was later located on Comite Road, and Franklin and Chaney had allegedly fled into the woods nearby. They were taken into custody without incident.
According to his arrest report, Franklin told deputies that he knew he was wanted by Zachary police and that he was driving the U-Haul at the time of the incident.
Chaney allegedly told deputies that Franklin recognized the Zachary police officers who approached the vehicle and specifically identified one of the officers by name. She also said that after abandoning the U-Haul truck, she discarded Franklin’s clothes and other personal items in the woods, according to her arrest report.
Franklin has an extensive criminal history, including arrests on counts of illegal possession of a stolen firearm and narcotics-related counts, according to his arrest report in the Monday incident.
McDavid previously spoke to local media about Franklin and said Tuesday that he is concerned how Franklin was out of jail, despite multiple previous arrests. When asked more about Franklin on Tuesday, McDavid held back, saying he wanted to focus more on Lawton.
"The system failed Chris Lawton, this guy shouldn't have been on the street," McDavid said.
A man who served as a Zachary Fire Department deputy chief and part-time Zachary police officer was killed Monday night outside the Walmart in…