A cop killed a 93-year-old woman inside of her home in Texas Tuesday evening, touching off a firestorm of backlash surrounding what appears to be an unlawful killing. Responding to a 911 call on the report of a “disturbance,” the officers entered a home on Karney Street in Hearne, about 90 miles northeast of Austin. Inside they found a 93-year-old woman, reportedly armed and waving a gun around, refusing to listen to the direction given by officers to put down her weapon. Fearing for his life, one officer discharged his weapon at least five times into the home’s elderly resident, Pearlie Golden.
Officer Stephen Stem asked Golden to "put down the weapon and then ultimately fired his own sidearm, wounding Miss Golden," the Robertson County Sheriff’s Office said in a statement distributed to local media. Attorney Coty Siegert, who serves as the Robert County District Attorney, confirmed that officers were dispatched to Golden’s home following reports of a disturbance.
However, few details regarding the shooting have been released, and KXXV News out of Waco, Texas, is describing the incident as horrific police brutality. The community of Hearne, a population of only 4,000, was appalled to hear that Pearlie Golden, or "Miss Sully" as she was called, had been gunned down. She was known as a kind and sweet lady, according to those who knew her.
Michael Washington, a former city council member who also knew Golden, says this happens too often.
"Under this existing chief, we have had too many incidents," Washington said. "We can't solve murders, but we can create them. And they are coming from our police department. I really have a problem with that."
Officer Stephen Stem has been placed on paid administrative leave, as is the normal protocol for an officer involved shooting. However, KXXV also reported that Stem was involved in a 2012 shooting and killing of a 28-year-old mentally handicapped man. Stem was no-billed – meaning a jury decided there was not sufficient evidence to send the case to the District Court for prosecution. Stem has only served with the Hearne police department for two years.
KBTX out of Bryan, Texas has learned that the person who called 911 was Pearlie Golden's nephew. Earlier this week, the Texas Department of Public Safety refused to renew Golden’s driver’s license. The nephew was allegedly trying to take her keys away when Golden got upset, grabbed her gun and threatened him.
The Texas Rangers, Hearne Investigators, and Robertson County District Attorney's Office are investigating the incident.
“While it is too early in the investigation to comment on any of the facts or evidence stated above, I can say that this was a very tragic occurrence,” said District Attorney Coty Siegert. “My prayers go out to the family members of Miss Golden and to the Hearne Community as a whole.”
Neighbor Lawanda Cooke was devastated by the incident. “Even if she did have a gun, she is in her 90′s… They could have shot in the air to scare her. Maybe she would have dropped it. I don’t see her shooting anyone.”