HOUSTON — A police officer who fatally shot a 93-year-old woman at her home in Texas is defending his use of deadly force and lashing out at the City Council that fired him.
Stephen Stem was dismissed from the Hearne Police Department on Saturday. He argues his termination was unjust.
“The knee-jerk reaction to terminate Mr. Stem was not about whether Ms. Golden chose to create and perpetuate a life-threatening situation. That is a clear and indisputable fact.
“Rather, the city’s decision was about appeasing certain members of the community who want to make this case about Ms. Golden’s age, the fact she is African-American, or the fact she is a woman.
“None of those factors played a role in Stem’s decision to use deadly force,” Robert McCabe, Stem’s attorney, said in a statement Sunday.His comments come as Texas Rangers continue an investigation into why Pearlie Golden, a longtime resident in this small town of about 4,600 people between Dallas and Houston, was shot multiple times at her home Tuesday.
A man believed to be a relative of Golden’s made a 911 call asking for help from police, Robertson County District Attorney Coty Siegert said.
“What I understand is (Hearne police) were called out because a woman was brandishing a firearm,” Siegert said.
“An officer asked her to put the handgun down, and when she would not, shots were fired.”
Hearne City Attorney Bryan Russ Jr. said Stem told Golden to drop her weapon at least three times.
Stem fired three times, and Golden was hit at least twice, he said.
She was transported to a hospital, where she died.
“Police not only have a duty to protect themselves from imminent harm, but also innocent citizens who rely on them ‘to protect and serve,’ ” Stem’s attorney said in his statement.
The case eventually will be presented to a grand jury, which is standard procedure when dealing with officer-involved incidents, according to Russ, the city attorney.
“I would expect people to be upset about this, a young police officer shooting a 93-year-old lady,” Russ said. “I’m upset about it. Most of our citizens are upset, but at the same time, I don’t believe all the facts have come to the surface yet.”