BRYAN - The former Hearne police officer who was fired after he shot and killed a 93-year-old woman was suspended twice during his nearly three years with the Bryan Police Department.
According to Stephen Stem’s personnel records obtained by The Eagle , Stem was placed on a 90-day suspension in July 2011. The reason for the suspension was an incident in February of that year that ended with Stem pointing a gun at a bystander and a suspect while another officer was in his field of fire.
Stem responded to a 911 call about people fighting and driving recklessly, even though he had not been dispatched. Stem responded with lights and sirens, traveling at speeds up to 85 mph along Texas Avenue, which is more than double the speed limit.
As he approached the suspect’s car, Stem exited his patrol car holding his gun and pulled the suspect out, causing the vehicle to roll into the car in front of it. The suspect was not "posting an immediate threat of death or serious injury" to warrant use of force.
Compounding matters, Stem did not file a use of force report as required by the department anytime a gun is pointed at a person.
"Your entire involvement in responding to the call on February 20, 2011, is conduct prejudicial to good order," Chief Eric Buske wrote in a departmental memo. "You began by engaging in emergency operations without supervisor approval and the call in issue did not rise to the level of engaging in emergency operations. You then continued engaging in emergency operations without your emergency lights or siren and turned your in-car video off to hide your conduct."
When deciding to suspend Stem for 90 days, Buske wrote he considered 10 "events concerning (Stem’s) employment with the Bryan Police Department that I consider to be aggravating, thus warranting a more severe penalty."
Stem was fired by the Hearne City Council May 10, four days after shooting Pearlie Golden outside her home. The case is still under investigation by the Texas Rangers and will be presented to a Grand Jury.
Stem spent a year with the Lott Police after resigning from Bryan PD, before joining the Hearne Police Department in July 2012.
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