Patrolman William Larry Whitwell

Patrolman William Larry Whitwell

Columbia Police Department, Tennessee

End of Watch Sunday, April 5, 1981

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William Larry Whitwell

Patrolman William Whitwell was shot and killed with his own weapon after stopping a vehicle for speeding.

Unbeknownst to Patrolman Whitwell, the two occupants had just robbed a local fast food restaurant. As he was talking with the men the robbery call was broadcast over the radio and Patrolman Whitwell observed a money bag in the vehicle. A struggle ensued and Patrolman Whitwell was shot with his own weapon.

Both subjects, ages 19 and 17, fled but were later apprehended. One was convicted of first degree murder and sentenced to life. The 17 year-old was convicted of second degree murder and sentenced to 50 years. He was denied parole in October 2012 but was paroled months later. The other suspect has a parole hearing in October of 2020.

Patrolman Whitwell was survived by his wife and son.


  • Age 34
  • Tour 12 years
  • Badge Not available

Incident Details

  • Cause Gunfire
  • Weapon Officer's handgun
  • Offender Sentenced to life

Most Recent Reflection

View all 30 Reflections

I was just sitting around thinking about my time at The Tennessee Law Enforcement Academy from 2/18/1980 to 3/28/1980. I was a Patrolman at East Tennessee State University when I went to the Academy. I spent 4 years at ETSU PD and then worked 3 years at Johnson City Police Department. I got out of Law Enforcement in November of 1986 and spent the rest of my career at the Johnson City, Tennessee Fire Department. I was looking at the list of Officers that went to school with me and when I Googled Larry I saw for the first time the news of his untimely death. I cannot believe that this gentleman was taken from us so long ago. He lost his life protecting his family and community. “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends." My prayers are with his family and may the animals that took this young man's life never see the light of day.

Tom McCormack
Went to Basic Police Recruit School 2/18-3/28/1980 with Larry.

March 2, 2020

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