BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) — Over four years ago, a Zachary Fire Chief who was also a reserve police officer was killed attempting to issue an arrest warrant. 

Wednesday, the trial begins for the alleged killer Albert Franklin Jr. begins. 

In March 2018, Officer Chris Lawton joined officer Chad Felps to issue a warrant to Franklin Jr. when they approached his U-Haul vehicle in a Walmart parking lot. Lawton and Felps approached Franklin’s box truck when he allegedly took off, running Lawton over with the vehicle and dragging him causing mortal injury. Lawton died within minutes, according to testimony heard in the courtroom. 

 Zachary Police Chief David McDavid says Lawton‘s death hit him hard. 

“It’s my job as chief to make sure that every officer comes home safely,” said McDavid. “Unfortunately, this happened and this is something that I will have to live with for the rest of my life and I will deal with it.”  

Franklin is charged with manslaughter. If convicted, the penalty could put him behind bars for up to 40 years. His trial was delayed due to the pandemic. His attorneys feel confident in their defense. 

“Honestly I feel pretty good, there weren’t any curve balls no surprises, and the jury seems very inventive,” said Defense Attorney Anthony Angelette. “Let’s just say the state has the burden and let’s see if they can get there.”

The court saw graphic videos and photos of Lawton after he was run over. Many people, including his immediate family, had to leave the courtroom, but McDavid stayed. 

“It was tough to see a fellow officer in that condition,” said McDavid, holding back tears.

Lawton left behind a wife and two children. McDavid said he has been there for the family. 

“Two children lost their dad. You know they went to prom, they graduated, the son graduated from the Marine Corps, I mean it’s a tough pill to swallow,” said McDavid. 

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