Heroic UCCS officer dies after ‘inspiring battle with cancer’

UCCS Police Officer Larry Darnall speaks during the funeral service for Garrett Swasey, the 44-year-old University of Colorado at Colorado Springs police officer and six-year veteran of the department, at New Life Church on Friday, December 4, 2015. Swasey was killed Nov. 27 after responding to a shooting at a Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood which left two others dead and 12 injured. Photo by Stacie Scott, The Gazette

By: Ellie Mulder
February 26, 2018

Larry Darnall, an 11-year police officer for the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs, died Saturday at 47 “after his inspiring battle with cancer,” the police force announced Monday.

He was the first officer lost from the force, now 18 members strong, since Garrett Swasey, 44, was fatally shot Nov. 27, 2015, with two others during an attack on the Planned Parenthood clinic.

Darnall was widely regarded as a hero for his volunteer actions during the deadly Black Forest fire in 2013.

When the flames cut off Darnall and several Colorado Springs police officers, destroying CSPD cruisers, Darnall helped evacuate his fellow officers.

“He rescued so many people that they had to ride out on the hood of his car,” said Brian McPike, then the interim UCCS police chief. “Officer Darnall’s actions that day no doubt had a direct impact on many people’s lives and property.”

He became the first UCCS officer awarded the medal of honor, the department’s second-highest award, in December 2013, McPike said at the time in a news release.

He was “a very kind person who was always willing to give his time and knowledge to help the UCCS community,” Chief Marc Pino said in a statement. “We warmly remember his enthusiastic and skillful support for UCCS and the UCCS Police Department.”

Darnall was diagnosed with inoperable stage 3 pancreatic cancer, says a GoFundMe page created on his behalf last April. It had raised more than $9,500 as of Monday.

He had been an El Paso County sheriff’s deputy from August 1993 through July 2005, said spokeswoman Jacqueline Kirby.

“Larry was known for his sense of humor,” Kirby said. “He could lighten the mood during tense/stressful situations and put everyone at ease. He would often say something unexpected, which was fitting for the situation, and could make everyone around him burst into laughter.”

Darnall and Swasey had been longtime friends, and Darnall trained him on the UCCS force, The Denver Post reported.

Of Swasey’s final moments, Darnall said at his funeral, “I know he gave it his best,” The Post reported.

A celebration of life service for Darnall will be held at 2 p.m. Monday at Rocky Mountain Calvary Church, 4285 N. Academy Blvd.

Contact Ellie Mulder: 636-0198

Twitter: @lemarie