January 23, 1991
Nacogdoches County, Texas
Constable Darrell Lunsford is tackled and shot to death by his own sidearm
Constable Lunsford pulled over Baldemar Sambrano Villarreal, Reynaldo Sambrano Villarreal, and Jesus Zambrano. Growing suspicious, Constable Lunsford searched the vehicle, finding 31 lbs. marijuana in the trunk. The men wrestled the constable to the ground in a “prison takedown,” kicking and beating him. They rolled Constable Lunsford on his stomach, kicking him more and stabbing him 3 times. Then Baldemar Sambrano Villarreal, using Constable Lunsford’s own service weapon, shot him once in the neck, severing his spinal column and killing him instantly. The three then pulled the body to a ditch and slowly fled the scene.
The murder was captured on the constable’s dash cam and led to the conviction of his assailants and provided training for other officers. Baldemar Sambrano Villarreal, the shooter, was given a life sentence without the possibility of parole. His younger brother Reynaldo was sentenced to 40 years, and Jesus Zambrano was sentenced to 30 years after pleading guilty.
The dash cam footage used in police training helped a Texas state trooper, Andy Lopez, Jr., during an eerily similar incident. Trooper Lopez pulled over a vehicle containing 3 Hispanic suspects and discovered a large amount of marijuana in the trunk. One suspect attempted to pull a handgun on the trooper, who was able to knock the suspect back and take cover while the other 2 suspects fled. The armed suspect and Trooper Lopez exchanged fire, with a second trooper responding to the call for backup joining the fight. The armed suspect was killed by multiple gunshot wounds, Trooper Lopez sustained a minor injury, and the 2 other suspects were arrested without further incident. Trooper Lopez credited the tape of Constable Lunsford for saving his life.
Constable Lunsford’s dash cam footage can be seen here.