METRO police officer fatally shoots suspect

August 3, 2011 10:59:00 AM PDT
We now know more about a deadly officer-involved shooting that happened late Tuesday afternoon in southwest Houston.

By dusk, only a few officers remained on the scene in the 5800 block of Fairdale between Westheimer and Richmond. The dead man's family had arrived from Liberty County. They declined to talk on camera, but said they wanted to see where he died for themselves.

It was around 2:30pm when a METRO police officer patroling a bus route nearby says he spotted the dark blue sedan run a red light. He followed the driver to a townhome complex and that's when a routine traffic stop went south.

"He put the car in reverse and they just started shooting," witness Brittany Reding said.

The officer told HPD investigators when he approached the car, the passenger immediately jumped out and the driver, who was within reach of a pistol, wouldn't comply with his commands. Instead, HPD says he put the car in reverse but got as far as the ditch, where once again the METRO officer told him to give up. He never did. He made a move and was shot and killed.

"The suspect made a move to grab the weapon. He did not actually ever point it directly at the METRO officer but he did make a furtive movement to grab the weapon," HPD Spokesman Victor Senties said.

Soon the passenger, who had an outstanding warrant, was tracked down and arrested, and the dead man's family was telling us everything happened a lot quicker.

"They pulled up behind this young man entering my gate for whatever reason and when the police officer approached them, he immediately was trying to put that car in park. And it went in reverse and they just started opening fire on him," Reding said.

His father added it's not like him to have a gun. METRO's police chief backs his officer and believes he gave him every opportunity.

"Repeatedly, repeatedly, I don't know the number of times, but he repeatedly advised the suspect to put his hands up, put them over his head, get out of the car, and at no point did it appear to us that the suspect ever attempted to comply," METRO Police Department Chief Victor Rodriguez said.

The officer is 37-year-old Richard Hernandez, a 12-year veteran of METRO police. He is a member of the tactical team and firearms trainer. A grand jury will now review the case to determine if he did anything wrong.

Rodriguez says his officers often patrol bus routes and rail lines.

Though we've spoken to the family, we're not yet identifying the 29-year-old driver because the medical examiner has not yet made it official.

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