HEARNE, Texas The attorney for a Hearne officer who shot and killed 93-year-old Pearlie Golden said the council's decision to terminate his client was a "knee-jerk reaction."
Hearne City Council members met to discuss possible disciplinary action against Officer Stephen Stem on Saturday. It took them less than 30 minutes to reach a unanimous vote to fire him.
In a statement, Stem's attorney Robert McCabe said "Stephen Stem is deeply disappointed that the Hearne City Council terminated his employment without cause, while the Texas Rangers investigation into the facts surrounding the incident is still pending."
McCabe said Stem is pursuing his legal options concerning the "wrongful and unjust" termination.
"Unfortunately, the knee-jerk reaction to terminate Mr. Stem was not about whether Ms. Golden chose to create and perpetuate a life-threatening situation," said McCabe. "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 that she is African-American, or the fact that she is a woman. None of those played a role in Stem's decision to use deadly force."
Roy Jones, Golden's nephew, said he took aunt to the Department of Public Safety on Tuesday to renew her driver’s license, but was denied after failing her test. Jones tells News 3 he took her home and could tell she was upset.
Jones said he was sitting on the porch with Golden when she demanded her keys back. He refused to give them to her, and Golden went inside the house to get her .38 caliber revolver, Jones said. He then ran to the side of the house and called police.
Officer Stem responded to that 911 call. Stem ordered Golden to put the gun down, but Golden refused. Jones said Golden fired two shots gun into the ground before Stem fired his weapon, but Stem told McCabe he's certain Golden didn't fire the gun while he was on scene.
"What was Mr. Stem expected to do if not protect himself and Mr. Jones at that moment?" said McCabe. "If Mr. Stem failed to act and Ms. Golden shot and killed Mr. Jones, what position would Mr. Stem have placed himself in?" Was her life more valuable than the life of Mr. Jones?"
McCabe said some members of the community have said that, because of her age, Golden posed no real threat to anyone.
"If that were true, then why did Jones call 911?" said McCabe.
Seigert said Stem fired four shots, hitting Golden twice, once in the arm and once in the upper chest. Golden later died at St. Joseph Hospital in Bryan.
Stem has been a police officer since August 2008. He previously worked for the Cities of Bryan and Lott as a police officer. Stem joined the Hearne Police Department in July 2012. Six months later, he shot and killed 28-year-old Tederalle Satchell who was shooting a gun from inside a vehicle at the parking lot of the Columbus Village Apartments. A Grand Jury did not indict Stem in that shooting.
McCabe said the outpouring of support for his client has been great.
"Stephen Stem has been overwhelmed with support from concerned citizens all over the country who see the City's actions as premature, cowardly and unwarranted," said McCabe.
Golden’s funeral is scheduled for next Saturday (May 17) at Old Elam Missionary Baptist Church where she was a member for most of her life.