LUBBOCK, Texas — To celebrate Labor Day, Lawrance Garcia was barbecuing at Clapp Park with friends.
That was until he heard a gunshot. Garcia immediately ran toward the scene where he found Lubbock Police Department Officer, Larry Barnhill, in pain and in need of help.
Garcia was videoing his barbecue, when he quickly switched the focus of the video to Officer Barnhill.
“You alright?,” Garcia asked Officer Barnhill.
Garcia and his friends checked on Officer Barnhill and asked him what happened.
“Did he run you over or hit you?,” Garcia asked Officer Barnhill.
“He hit me,” Officer Barnhill said.
Garcia said Officer Barnhill was hurt and in shock.
“He looked like he was in pain and kind of disoriented, … but I know that he knew that we were there to help him,” Garcia said.
Officer Barnhill was headed to Clapp Park for backup after a report of teenagers doing donuts in a parking lot. Officers had already confirmed they were in a stolen car.
Garcia said Officer Barnhill asked him if he’d seen the car doing donuts. He responded yes, and pointed Officer Barnhill in the direction of the vehicle.
LPD Chief, Floyd Mitchell, said Officer Barnhill tried to stop the suspects and he fired his gun at the car, only hitting the car.
“Larry got out of his vehicle, took one step or possibly two steps toward the vehicle, the vehicle turned left, ran straight into him, and did not give him any place to go but over the hood of the vehicle,” Chief Mitchell said after seeing the body cam footage.
After Officer Barnhill fired, the suspects continued to flee the scene in the vehicle. That was until they crashed the stolen vehicle. The three teenagers took off on foot, but were quickly caught and taken into custody.
“Following a short pursuit, the suspect vehicle, which was traveling South on Avenue U, entered the intersection of 50th Street and Avenue U, colliding with an SUV traveling West on 50th street, driven by 18-year-old Joshua Ford. Ford was transported to Covenant Medical Center via ambulance with minor injuries,” an LPD report stated.
With Officer Barnhill’s consent, Chief Mitchell explained the injuries he suffered from the incident. He said Officer Barnhill has a fractured spinous process of four of his lower vertebrae, a broken rib and a minor knee injury.
Officer Barnhill is being treated at University Medical Center and Chief Mitchell said he was expected to be released from the hospital later on Tuesday to go home and start his recovery.
Officer Barnhill is the longest serving officer on the force. He was first hired by LPD as a jailer in Oct. 1975 at just 19 years old. When he was 21 years old, he was moved to be a dispatcher. Finally, at the age of 23 on July 28, 1979, Officer Barnhill fulfilled his dream, by officially becoming a probationary police officer.
Chief Mitchell said many members of the community who know him have reached out, concerned.
“If you looked at him, you wouldn’t look at him and think he’s a 66-year-old man,” Chief Mitchell said. “He’s still out there getting after it and like I said, he’s a fine example of a police officer.”
A 14-year-old boy was driving the vehicle, along with two teenage passengers. All three were taken into custody and transported to the Lubbock Juvenile Justice Center. The charges were revealed by LPD on Tuesday afternoon.
The LPD Release said in part:
The three suspects in the vehicle, all juveniles, fled on foot, but were quickly taken into custody. Once in custody, they were transported to the Lubbock County Juvenile Justice Center. Their ages and charges are listed below.
14-year-old male: Driver – Aggravated Assault on a Peace Officer, Unauthorized Use of a Motor Vehicle, Evading Arrest in a Vehicle, Evading Arrest on Foot
14-year-old female: Passenger – Unauthorized Use of a Motor Vehicle, Evading Arrest on Foot
15-year-old male: Passenger – Unauthorized Use of a Motor Vehicle, Evading Arrest on Foot
No other injuries were reported and the investigation is ongoing.
The driver of the stolen vehicle was a 14-year-old man and two passengers were arrested here at 50th and avenue u after a short chase.
Chief Mitchell said it will be up to the district attorney to decide if the driver will face more serious consequences.
“Would the actions of this individual rise to the level of certifying this 14 year old as an adult?,” Chief Mitchell said. “He is 14, it’s often difficult to get a 14-year-old certified as an adult, but that’s something that the DA’s office would look at and make that final decision.”
LPD said Wednesday morning that Officer Larry Barnhill is “home and recovering.” No other injuries had been reported and the investigation was ongoing.