Officer's widow blames gun store in death

November 14, 2008 4:22:03 AM PST
We're hearing from the widow of a slain Houston police officer who says a Pasadena gun store is to blame for her husband's murder.[SIGN UP: Get headlines and breaking news sent to you]

Rodney Johnson was murdered two years ago. His killer is in prison for life.

The lawsuit filed at the Harris County Civil Courthouse says even though Juan Quintero pulled the trigger, he's not the only one to blame for Officer Johnson's murder. It says a gun store should have prevented the convicted felon and illegal immigrant from getting his hands on the gun he used.

It's been six months since the Quintero went to prison for life. Still Joslyn Johnson's fight is not over.

"I would not like this to happen to any other family," she said. "I wouldn't want anyone else to have to endure their pain."

She has sued the city over its one officer per car practice, now she's suing the store that sold the gun that Quintero used to kill her husband.

Quintero fatally shot Officer Rodney Johnson during a traffic stop. The officer missed a hidden weapon on Quintero during a pat-down and Quintero managed to get to it while handcuffed, but Joslyn believes the killer never would have had the 9mm had Carter's Country, she says, followed the law.

"I would just like the gun companies to know this should not be tolerated," Johnson said. "They should be more responsible and they need to do a complete and thorough background check."

According to the lawsuit, Carter's Country was negligent because although Quintero did the shopping, the salesperson allowed his wife, Theresa, to fill out the federally mandated paperwork for the purchase of the gun as if she were the actual purchaser. They did this, it says, because Quintero's immigration status and criminal record made him ineligible to legally buy a gun. It's called a straw sale and it's illegal.

"There are federal regulations out there, other laws out there, to present this type of purchase," said Johnson's attorney Ben Dominguez.

In a videotaped confession, Dominguez says Quintero admitted to the details of the gun purchase.

Meanwhile, Carter's Country denies the allegations. In its answer to the lawsuit, attorneys for the company argue in part the shooting was out of its control. Juan Quintero and his employer, Robert Camp, now under indictment for illegally employing him, are responsible.

Beyond that its attorney told us, "we don't think it's ethical to discuss the facts of a pending case."

Joslyn Johnson doesn't want to stop talking. She's on a crusade of sorts for her husband.

"I just want people to be aware that this should not happen to anyone else if I can help it," she said.

There's no dollar amount listed in the lawsuit. Johnson's attorney says they'll let a jury decide on that. As for criminal investigation. A spokesperson said t hey could neither confirm or deny they're investigating.

      Headline check | 100 most recent local stories | News alerts
            Slideshow archive | ABC13 wireless | Help solve crimes


Load Comments