Patrolman William T. Barnett

Patrolman William T. Barnett

Lakeland Police Department, Florida

End of Watch Sunday, March 27, 1932

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William T. Barnett

Patrolman William Barnett and Patrolman Thomas Nicholson were shot and killed after they responded to a domestic disturbance in North Lakeland. The two officers were struggling with two men when they shot and killed both officers. Other officers arrived at the scene and took both men into custody. It was later determined that both suspects used the same gun and each killed one officer.

Both suspects, 21 and 66, were convicted of Patrolman Nicholson's and Patrolman Barnett's murder and sentenced to death. Both appealed and were granted new trials. The older suspect was again convicted of murder but sentenced to life. He applied for a pardon on February 7, 1936.

At the other suspect's second trial a witness said he saw him with pistol but never actually saw him shoot Patrolman Barnett. Several other witnesses said he told them that he did kill Patrolman Barnett. He was acquitted. The jury said there was not enough evidence for a conviction. On June 13, 1934, he was arrested for carrying concealed weapons and was in a very intoxicated condition. Because of recent problems, the state sanity commission declared him insane and he was sent to the Tallahassee State Mental Hospital. He escaped from the Chattahoochee State Mental Hospital along with another inmate on July 12, 1942. Days later both robbed and beat a man to death in Levi County. Both were apprehended along with his wife and another couple in Orlando. He admitted to the murder along with four other unsolved murders he was charged with in Miami. He was declared sane and executed in the electric chair on November 22, 1943.


  • Age Not available
  • Tour Not available
  • Badge Not available

Incident Details

  • Cause Gunfire
  • Weapon Handgun; .38 caliber
  • Offender One acquitted; One sentenced to life


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Thank you for your service and please know that no passage of time can ever erase your sacrifice. Rest in peace always.

Detective Cpl/3 Steven Rizzo
Delaware State Police (Retired)

March 27, 2021

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