As law enforcement officials from all over the county trickled to the front of the Denton County Courts Building in Denton on Wednesday evening, only one thing appeared to be on their minds: fallen, but not forgotten.
The 18th annual Denton County Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Service drew officers from all walks of life to honor the six area officers who have been killed in the line of duty since 1897.
The service, conducted by the Denton County Law Enforcement Association, is held in conjunction with National Police Week each year.
As Denton County Sheriff’s Office Chief Deputy Rex George read the roll call of those who paid the ultimate sacrifice, a single rose was placed in a memorial wreath to remember the six fallen:
• Jailer Floyd Coberly had only been on the job for 10 days at the Denton County Jail when he was bludgeoned to death by an inmate in February 1897.
As Coberly gathered the lunchtime dishes, he was struck in the back of the head with a piece of wood and fell down a flight of stairs. George Henry, a man linked to Coberly’s death, was executed in Wise County in a public hanging nearly a year after the jailer’s death.
• Special Deputy Robert Parsons had worked in law enforcement for almost 40 years when he was killed on the streets of Denton in August 1925. He was investigating a theft ring in the county when he was shot nine times on East Hickory Street. W.A. Martin received 99 years for the murder of Parsons.
• Denton County Sheriff’s Deputy Carl “Red” Garrett was involved in a deadly raid at a cafe in Justin while searching for illegal liquor on July 2, 1934. Garrett was shot in the throat by Jimmy Glasscock, one of the cafe’s proprietors.
Another deputy working with Garrett, Hugh Elliot, shot Glasscock in the head and he died three hours later. Garrett died the following day at a Denton hospital. Glasscock’s partner was indicted on charges of murder and assault to commit murder. He was acquitted.
• Texas Ranger Bobby Paul Doherty was killed during a drug raid in Argyle in 1978. As officers attempted to make an arrest, shots were fired and Doherty was hit in the forehead, dying at 1 a.m. the next day. Greg Ott was sentenced to life in prison for the Ranger’s death. He was paroled in 2004.
• Trooper Hollis Stephen Lacy had been with the Texas Highway Patrol for only a few months when he was killed in an automobile accident during a high-speed chase Dec. 26, 1980.
Lacy was attempting to pull over a car on the Interstate 35W access road at FM407 when the car he was following stopped prior to the intersection.
Lacy was unable to stop and proceeded into the intersection, where he was hit by a van. He died at the scene.
Lacy was 24 years old and the first black trooper in Texas killed in the line of duty.
• Sgt. William Keith Thurston of the Denton County Sheriff’s Office was responding to a call in Pilot Point in 1986 when his patrol car was struck at the intersection of FM428 and U.S. Highway 377. A teenage driver failed to stop at a stop sign.
Thurston was found pinned in his vehicle and taken to a hospital in Fort Worth. He died Dec. 10, 1986, four days after the accident. Before working with the sheriff’s office, Thurston had worked with the Flower Mound Police Department.
As the shots faded from a 21-gun salute by the Denton Police Department Honor Guard, keynote speaker Clint McNear reminded everyone of the importance to not only hold down the front line and protect one another but to spend time with family and friends while making a mark in the world.
“It can all be gone tomorrow,” McNear, a retired Garland police officer and current representative for the Texas Municipal Police Association, told the crowd.
MEGAN GRAY can be reached at 940-566-6885 and via Twitter at @MGrayNews.