Thursday, July 24, 2014         

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Texas town shaken by officer shooting 93-year-old

By Paul J. Webber

Associated Press


HEARNE, Texas >> Friends say 93-year-old Pearlie Golden still shopped at the grocery store and greeted friends with a jubilant "Hey, baby!" Now they and the mayor of this small Texas town want the police officer who shot and killed her gone.

The fatal shooting of "Miss Sulie" -- as residents say she was widely known -- has raised tensions in Hearne and the Texas Rangers are investigating what led the officer to fire on Golden while responding to a 911 call at her house this week.

Hearne police have said in a statement that Golden "brandished a gun" when officer Stephen Stem arrived Tuesday night. Dozens of protesters, including some who came in from Houston, marched to police headquarters on Thursday and were met there by Mayor Ruben Gomez, who said he will recommend that the officer be fired during Saturday's City Council meeting.

"It's a loss of confidence in the community. We can't have an officer the citizens have lost confidence in," Gomez said.

Hearne is home to about 4,500 people surrounded by cotton farms and railways, one of which backs up to Gordon's brick home.

Robertson County District Attorney Coty Siegert said a preliminary autopsy shows Golden was shot twice in the body and grazed by a third bullet. It's the second time Stem has shot and killed a suspect since joining the department in 2012, Siegert said.

"There's no justification. Any police officer would know not to kill a 93-year-old fragile woman when they could have backed off," said William Foster, 64, a retired professor in Hearne. "She was no threat to him."

Stem could not be reached for comment because a number for him could not be found. Siegert said he saw Stem's lawyer this week but didn't know his name, and Hearne City Attorney Bryan Ross didn't return a phone message.

Hearne police have declined to comment beyond the statement issued this week. Stem has been placed on administrative leave.

Candles left in vigil remained outside Golden's home two days after the shooting. Foster and others said she lived alone and that her husband had been a Hearne police officer himself.

A doghouse made of plywood sat in Golden's recently mowed yard. Next door, a neighbor lived in a trailer surrounded by a barbed wire fence.

Authorities say a revolver believed to be the weapon Golden had at the time of the shooting was found at the scene.

Hazel Embra, a geriatric nurse and a City Council candidate in Saturday's local election, said she ran into Golden last week at the grocery store.

"That lady should be living today. She should not have died like she did," Embra said.

The circumstances surrounding Stem's first on-the-job fatal shooting were very 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.

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ryan02 wrote:
Another news source said the woman's family called the police when she pulled a gun on them during an argument. I admit I wasn't there, but if she really waived a gun at the police (as well as her family), then shooting her may have been justified. And age doesn't matter - a 93 year old is just as capable of pulling the trigger as a 33 year old. That's why guns are so much more dangerous than a knife - it takes hardly any strength or effort at all to kill someone with a gun. The people who are morally responsible for her death are either herself, or the people who allowed a "frail" 93 year old woman to have access to a gun in the first place.
on May 9,2014 | 07:20AM
kauailawyer wrote:
Bingo. It's easy to Monday morning quarterback. The story doesn't give details on what her actions were when the officer arrived.
on May 9,2014 | 08:33AM
hawaiikone wrote:
As evidenced by the comments below, having the necessary facts in order to arrive at an informed opinion doesn't seem to hinder partisan blowback though.
on May 9,2014 | 12:38PM
kainalu wrote:
"Have gun - will shoot" - isn't that the Texas motto? So why are they "shaken"?
on May 9,2014 | 09:13AM
eoe wrote:
Exactly - this is the natural end result of "everybody armed" that the right wing and NRA fantasize about.
on May 9,2014 | 09:39AM
nitpikker wrote:
thats true. wonder why they're so quiet?
on May 9,2014 | 10:41AM
Jerry_D wrote:
Perhaps *we* are so quiet because maybe we agree that this shooting might be justified. Perhaps we "right wing and NRA members" understand that with freedoms come responsibility and, unlike liberals, will not resort to finger pointing and making excuses for the misguided actions of the few. No political system is perfect, but *we* feel the liberal system is the LEAST perfect.
on May 9,2014 | 10:56AM
eoe wrote:
Too bad you live in a liberal system. Maybe you should move to someplace where they have really implemented the type of libertarian, dog-eat-dog "freedom" you are always crowing about. For example somalia. No laws, everybody is armed - total freedom. I'll even buy your ticket.
on May 9,2014 | 11:25AM
dsl wrote:
yo-it's what this country was founded on-you go to another country. This one has laws and law-abiding citizens too! Clown
on May 9,2014 | 12:44PM
dsl wrote:
As Americans it's our right to posses a firearm. Let's not be so fast to give up our rights based on what barry wants...
on May 9,2014 | 12:41PM
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