HEARNE, Texas — Officials in a small Central Texas town voted Saturday to fire a police officer who shot and killed an armed 93-year-old woman during a confrontation.
The city council’s unanimous vote to dismiss Officer Stephen Stem came after a meeting that lasted less than 30 minutes, KBTX-TV reported. Mayor Ruben Gomez said 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 called Golden.
Hearne police said that Golden “brandished a gun” when Stem arrived, but have declined to comment further. Stem was on administrative leave while Texas Rangers investigated. But Golden’s nephew, Roy Jones, told the TV station 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 said Golden fired two shots before the officer 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 he could neither confirm nor deny 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, believes his client’s actions were justified under the circumstances and called the mayor’s comments inappropriate and unprofessional.
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 in 2012, Siegert said, but the circumstances surrounding Stem’s first one were different. Siegert said officers responded to a call and chased several suspects through an unlit area before Stem fired. He was cleared by a grand jury.