Deputy Sheriff Carrol Vinson Copeland

Deputy Sheriff Carrol Vinson Copeland

Wheeler County Sheriff's Office, Texas

End of Watch Monday, January 1, 1973

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Carrol Vinson Copeland

Deputy Sheriff Carrol Copeland succumbed to a gunshot wound sustained the previous evening after stopping a car that had been driven away from a gas station in Shamrock without paying for $3.20 of gas.

Deputy Copeland stopped the vehicle 10 miles east of Shamrock on US 60. He spoke with the two occupants, and the driver refused to return to the gas station. The man pulled out a pistol and shot Deputy Copeland in the chest. Deputy Copeland was able to return fire and wounded the suspect. Both men fled to Oklahoma, where they were arrested a short time later.

The vehicle was stolen, one of the suspects was AWOL from the U.S. Military, and the shooter was a member of street gang in California. In the vehicle, they found the murder weapon and several more guns. Both suspects stood trial for the murder. One suspect received two years in exchange for testifying against the actual murderer of Deputy Copeland. The murderer, a 17 year old street gang member, received a 99 year prison sentence.

Deputy Copeland had served with the Wheeler County Sheriff's Office for only five months. He was survived by his wife, three children, and a stepson he was planning to adopt.


  • Age 35
  • Tour 5 months
  • Badge Not available

Incident Details

  • Cause Gunfire
  • Incident Date Sunday, December 31, 1972
  • Weapon Handgun
  • Offender Sentenced to 99 years


Most Recent Reflection

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Deputy Sheriff Copeland,
On today, the 50th anniversary of your death I would just like to say thank you for your service and sacrifice for the citizens of Wheeler County. And to your Family and loved ones, I wish to extend my deepest sympathy.


United States Border Patrol

January 1, 2023

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