Houston police officer hits and kills man while responding to call in East Aldine area

Rosie Nguyen Image
Thursday, January 5, 2023
HPD officer hits and kills man while responding to non-emergency call
"He made everybody laugh just being himself." Family identified the victim as 24-year-old Caleb Swafford. He's the second pedestrian hit and killed by an HPD officer this week.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- A Houston police officer was on his way to a call Thursday morning when he struck and killed a pedestrian in the East Aldine area, according to investigators. This is the second fatal auto-pedestrian crash involving an HPD officer in the last week.

READ MORE: HPD officer hits and kills pedestrian on I-10 East Freeway near Wayside, police say

The officer's airbags deployed after he hit something on the road, according to HPD. He got out to inspect the car, and that's when he saw a body beside his vehicle.

Cpt. Anthony McConnell with the Harris County Sheriff's Office said the officer was traveling in the westbound middle lane of Aldine Bender Road near Picton when he struck a pedestrian around midnight. ABC13 crews observed that there are no visible crosswalks near the location of impact.

Sean Teare, chief of the Harris County District Attorney's Office Vehicular Crimes Division, said the officer was responding to a non-urgent call, so he was not using his lights and sirens in an area that's not well-lit. Investigators do not believe speed was a factor.

The officer reportedly turned around and performed life-saving measures on the victim, but was unsuccessful.

"These cases are incredibly tragic for everyone involved, the officer included," said Teare. "We've got to go through and determine the exact speed that was involved. The real lighting, what the line of sight was, and a number of different things that are going to go into this."

Family members and friends identified the victim as Caleb Swafford to media at the scene. They said he was on his way to visit a friend who lives at the Haverstock Hill Apartments when he was struck.

"What happened tonight, it was tragic. It's unexplainable when you're close to somebody like that. This is serious. This is very hurtful. This is a lot of pain, and I'm still at a point like, I really don't understand what's going on," said Caleb's friend, Raymond Broussard. "He's a good dude, funny. He had his ups and downs, but I tried to keep him positive, keep him up, keep his head and mind straight."

Investigators do not believe speed was a factor. But the victim's brother, Cameron Swafford, disagrees. He said he saw the condition of Caleb's body before it was taken away from the scene.

"It's terrible. That's why I'm like, you had to be speeding to like hit somebody that hard, to make somebody look how he looked," said Swafford. "He was like the life of the party. He made everybody laugh just being himself."

This is the second deadly crash involving a Houston police officer and a pedestrian in the past week. Another man was hit and killed on I-10 on Friday.

On Friday, an HPD sergeant hit and killed a pedestrian who was walking across the I-10 East Freeway near Wayside Drive while responding to a non-emergency call around 2 a.m. Houston Police said that as of Thursday, the sergeant is back on duty.

HPD Asst. Chief Patricia Cantu said the officer involved in Thursday's crash, who has been with the department for about two years, has been placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigation.

The Harris County Sheriff's Office, Houston Police Department Internal Affairs, and Harris County District Attorney's Office are all investigating the crash.

Investigators returned to the area on Thursday to gather surveillance video and speak to individuals who may have witnessed the crash. At this time, it is unclear if any charges will be filed.

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