Reserve Officer Christopher Lawton
Zachary Police Department, Louisiana
EAST BATON ROUGE PARISH, Louisiana — The Zachary firefighter and reserve police officer who was killed Monday night in a hit-and-run will be remembered as a dedicated public servant, said Zachary Fire Chief Danny Kimble.
Deputy Fire Chief Christopher Lawton, 41, was killed Monday night when he was run over by a U-haul truck in the parking lot of the Baker Walmart, officials on the scene said. He and another Zachary police officer were working undercover to investigate felony drug charges, East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff Sid Gautreaux said.
“Chris was a hard worker and a dedicated fireman,” Kimble said Tuesday morning. “And a family man, he believed very much in his family.”
Kimble said Lawton was married with two children.
Lawton embodied “just being a public servant, giving back to his community,” Kimble said.
Lawton joined the fire department in 1996 as a volunteer and then became a full-time firefighter in 1998, Kimble said. He had been a deputy chief for the last few years.
Lawton became an reserve officer with the Zachary Police Department in 2008, according to Louisiana Commission on Law Enforcement records.
He was honored for 20 years of service at the 2017 fire department award ceremony. He won a medical lifesaver award from the department in 2014 after he rendered aid to a man while on vacation with family in Mexico, according to previous reports from The Advocate.
Lawton also graduated in 2016 from the Leadership North program, which is a training for local leaders organized by the Zachary Chamber of Commerce. He recently volunteered through the Zachary United Methodist Church to build a wheelchair ramp at a home, according to previous reports.
“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.”
Kimble asked for the community to keep the Lawton family in his prayers.
Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome ordered all flags at city-parish buildings and grounds be flown at half-staff to honor Lawton.
“I am deeply saddened by the tragic death of the Zachary firefighter and policeman who lost his life while bravely serving his community,” Broome wrote in a statement. “I join all of East Baton Rouge Parish in expressing my gratitude for his service, and offer up prayers for his family, his fellow first responders, and to all those who knew him. Our hearts go out to the Zachary community.”
An autopsy is scheduled for Lawton for Wednesday, East Baton Rouge Coroner Beau Clark said.
Albert Franklin, 33, and Ashley Chaney, 30, were both arrested in the fatal hit-and-run, East Baton Rouge Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Casey Rayborn Hicks said early Tuesday.
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.