HEARNE, Texas - The nephew of Pearlie Golden says his aunt fired two shots before she was shot and killed by a Hearne police officer.
Roy Jones said he took his 93-year-old 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 Stephen 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. At that point, Robertson County District Attorney Coty 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's attorney, Robert McCabe said he believes Stem's actions were fully justified, given the situation.
"In that kind of situation, officer Stem doesn't have time to ask someone's age, to ask someone's ability to understand," said McCabe. "He obviously didn't know if Ms. Golden had any sort of dementia or any sort of diminished mental capacity."
McCabe said he hopes the community will let the justice system do its work.
He said Hearne Mayor Ruben Gomez's recent statement that he would recommend Stem be terminated was unprofessional and out of line.
"I think it's inappropriate for the mayor to come out and yield to public pressure and say he's going to look to have officer Stem fired," said McCabe. "He probably knows less facts about what occurred than I do."
Seigert said because the case is still under investigation, he could neither confirm nor deny that Golden fired her gun.
Jones told News 3 he dropped to the ground and started to cry after witnessing the shooting. He blames himself for what happened, even though he knew he had no choice but to call police.
Quanell X, with the New Black Panther Nation, led a march of about 100 people to the police station in protest Thursday morning. Protest leaders called for the arrest and indictment of Officer Stem. Mayor Ruben Gomez said he will recommend during Saturday’s special council meeting that Stem be terminated.
“We understand that members of the community have questions and are seeking a swift, emotional reaction from the Hearne City Council,” said McCabe. “As with any case, we hope cooler heads will prevail and look forward to an objective, professional and thorough investigation by the Texas Rangers.”
The District Attorney’s Office tells News 3 it could take up to two months for the case to be presented to a grand jury.
The District Attorney also addressed a rumor about Stem's possible relation to a District Court Judge.
In a statement, the district attorney said "In an effort to curb some rumors, 82nd District Court Judge Robert Stem (the District Court Judge for Robertson and Falls Counties) is in no way related to Hearne PD Officer Stephen Stem."
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.