Officer relieved of duty after shooting outside bar

February 21, 2011 3:47:02 PM PST
A Houston police officer has been relieved of duty as police investigate his involvement in a deadly shooting outside a River Oaks-area bar over the weekend.

The Houston Police Department says Officer Jose Coronado has now been relieved of duty, but this apparently does not mean he's been fired. A spokesperson says Officer Coronado will still be paid, just not doing police duties during the course of the investigation into this shooting.

Officer Coronado's attorney tells Eyewitness News the officer had been drinking early Saturday at Sherlock's Baker Street Pub and Grill. A union spokesperson says he was not legally drunk though when he opened fire on two men outside the bar.

"Certainly you get into a very touchy situation if a police officer has consumed alcohol," said Gary Blankinship of the Houston Police Officers' Union.

Police say Officer Coronado was off duty, leaving the bar when he discovered a fight in the parking lot. Fearing for the life of a long-time friend, police say, Officer Coronado opened fire, killing one man and wounding another.

"If someone's at risk of bodily injury or death, an officer may have to jump in there and take action. It really puts the officer in a tough situation," said Blankinship.

HPD's policy states clearly that "officers shall not exercise police authority while under the influence of intoxicants whether on or off duty." HPD would not say if they see Officer Coronado's actions a violation of department policy.

Omar Ventura, 31, was shot in the stomach and killed. His family tells Eyewitness News he was unarmed. HPD won't say if a gun was found on the scene.

Ventura's family says he leaves behind a fiance and three young children -- the oldest was six years of age.

His brother, Rolando Ventura, 27, also was shot in the incident. He was hit in his left arm. Family members say he's underwent surgery at the hospital, but he's expected to recover.

Autopsy results are pending for Omar Ventura.

Police say there is a possibility a third individual was shot, but that person has not been located or identified. In addition, there are possibly other witnesses to this incident who might have left the scene prior to the arrival of patrol officers.

Anyone with information in this incident is urged to contact the HPD Homicide Division at 713-308-3600.