The first time I read this story I was torn. On the surface it seems like a case of an inept trigger happy police officer. But as I analyzed the details I realized that this may not exactly fit what is normally defined as an open and shut case.
Officials in Hearne,Texas voted Saturday to fire a police officer who shot and killed an armed 93-year-old woman during a confrontation at her home.
The city council’s unanimous vote to dismiss Officer Stephen Stem came after a meeting that lasted less than 30 minutes.
Mayor Ruben Gomez said that he would recommend the termination of Stem, who shot and killed Pearlie Golden. Gomez promised demonstrators who marched to city hall protesting the shooting of “Miss Sulie,” as many residents called her, that he would seek the officers termination.
Hearne police have said in a statement that Golden “brandished a gun” when Stem arrived, but have declined to comment further. Stem was on administrative leave while Texas Rangers investigated the shooting.
But Golden’s nephew, Roy Jones, told the TV station in the Bryan-College Station area that his aunt became upset when she was denied a driver’s license renewal and armed herself when he refused to return her car keys. Jones said he called 911, and he said Golden fired two shots before the officer who responded shot her.
Authorities say a revolver believed to be the weapon Golden had at the time of the shooting was found at the scene.
Robertson County District Attorney Coty Siegert said because the case is still under investigation, he could neither confirm nor deny that Golden fired her gun. He said a preliminary autopsy shows Golden was shot twice in the body and grazed by a third bullet.
Stem’s attorney, Robert McCabe, said he believes his client’s actions were justified under the circumstances and called the mayor’s comments inappropriate and unprofessional.
“He probably knows less facts about what occurred than I do,” McCabe said.
Hearne is home to about 4,500 people and is surrounded by cotton farms and railways. Friends say Golden still shopped at the grocery store and greeted friends with a jubilant “Hey, baby!”
The fatal shooting was the second involving Stem since he joined the department in 2012, Siegert said, but the circumstances surrounding Stem’s first one were different. Siegert said a group of officers had responded to a call in the middle of the night and wound up chasing several suspects through an unlit area before Stem fired. He was cleared by a grand jury.
Does the fact that Miss Golden is 93 years old make her less dangerous with a gun in her hand? I don't think so. No matter what the age the individual is, if they decide to use deadly physical force. It is only logical that the reaction is deadly physical force.
Tragic but true.