At a May 10 city council meeting held in Hearne, Texas, the council voted unanimously to fire Hearne Police Officer Stephen Stem after he shot and killed 93-year-old Hearne resident Pearlie Golden on Tuesday while she was outside her home waving a gun. Jessica Vega, a spokesperson for the Hearne Police Department said that the council’s 6 – 0 vote to fire Stem was a “disciplinary action.”
CNN reported that Stem did not attend Saturday’s council meeting on advice from his attorney. The Texas Rangers are continuing their investigation into why Golden was shot multiple times. Reports vary on the number of times Stem actually discharged his weapon. Early reports have witnesses on the scene saying that Stem fired at Golden at least five times. Yesterday, The Eagle reported that Stem fired four times, with two of his shots hitting Golden. The city attorney for Hearne told CNN that Stem fired his weapon three times. Reports do agree though that Golden was hit twice.
Golden, affectionately known in her neighborhood as Ms. Sully, was reportedly waving a gun around in front of her home when police were called to the scene. After ignoring demands by police to put the gun down, witnesses say that Stem then shot her. Golden died from those injuries a short time later at a local hospital.
Reportedly, Golden had fired two shots from her gun into the ground before being fatally shot by Stem. Golden was said to be upset after the local Department of Motor Vehicles refused to renew her driver’s license on the day before the shooting. Golden’s great-nephew, Roy Jones, was with his aunt the day of the shooting and was the one to call 911 after Golden became increasingly agitated over not having her license renewed. Jones’ sister Theresa, said that on the day of the shooting, her brother and aunt got into an argument after her brother refused to give Golden the keys to her car.
At that point, Ray Jones told his sister, Golden grabbed a gun, which had belonged to her late husband.
Roy Jones told his sister that he then ran around the side of the house to call 911, hoping the aid of officials trained in defusing situations could calm her down.
Immediately following the shooting, Stem was placed on paid administrative leave. Approximately 150 mourners and protestors, including representatives from Houston’s New Black Panthers, marched on the Hearne police station on May 8 demanding that Stem be fired, according to USA Today. Mayor Ruben Gomez who was present for the demonstration at the police station, was in the forefront of those calling for Stem’s firing and made that recommendation at yesterday’s city council meeting.
KBTX reported that Golden’s death was the second fatal shooting from Stem, who shot and killed a man firing a gun from a car in an apartment complex less than six months after joining the Hearne Police Department in 2012. Stem was cleared of any wrong doing in that first shooting by a grand jury.