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Teen's Death During Chase Drawing Fire

Teen's Death During Chase Drawing Fire

San Antonio Express-News via YellowBrix

January 19, 2010

SAN ANTONIO – Even when off the clock, San Antonio police officers have a responsibility to take action if they witness a crime.

But how much action — and to what degree — was debated after a local teen was killed in a crash involving an off-duty patrolman who chased the teen and his brother, ramming his SUV into their truck.

The officer, a two-year member of the department, said he used deadly force only after the teen in the bed of the truck fired a shotgun at him, according to a police report.

“This defensive action by the officer was in response to the suspect’s threat of deadly force,” said Sgt. Chris Benavides, a spokesman for the San Antonio Police Department.

Benavides said a civilian also would have been justified in defending himself against such a threat.

The officer, Alonzio Hardin, 41, has been placed on administrative duty while the Police Department’s shooting team investigates the incident in which Ethan Owen died. Owen, 18, suffered fatal injuries when he was ejected from the bed of the truck after it crashed. His older brother, Eric, was driving the vehicle, police said. The 23-year-old was charged with aggravated robbery.

Criminologist Brian Withrow from Texas State University said the investigation should focus on whether Hardin’s use of deadly force was appropriate.

“He’s in the legal right to do that, but whether or not he used proper judgment is a different question altogether,” Withrow said.

Geoffrey Alpert, a criminologist at the University of South Carolina, said the issue becomes muddied because the younger sibling fired the shotgun.

“If you were just a good Samaritan following this person, I don’t think you’d be indicted,” he said. “I think the shotgun trumps everything.”

But Norman Owen, a former Bexar County deputy and the father of the teen killed, said the officer overreacted.

“I can’t understand why an off-duty police officer would chase those kids in a private vehicle,” the father said. “You’re trained to use a cell phone and call in, maybe, but not to do something that stupid.”


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  • Cars---mater-02_max50

    chrissanders

    over 4 years ago

    5232 Comments

    I agree. I see nothing wrong here. I would have done the same thing.

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    Anonymous

    over 4 years ago

    Everything look a ok from where I'm sitting!

  • Ba_old_glory_max50

    Jonas

    over 4 years ago

    43992 Comments

    Officer Hardin had A SHOTGUN FIRED AT HIM. What is WRONG with folks nowadays. By the way Mr. Owen, why exactly is it you're a FORMER deputy?

  • Ba_old_glory_max50

    Jonas

    over 4 years ago

    43992 Comments

    Officer Hardin had A SHOTGUN FIRED AT HIM. What is WRONG with folks nowadays. By the way Mr. Owen, why exactly is it you're a FORMER deputy?

  • Ofc

    tlaw193

    over 4 years ago

    316 Comments

    Amen OfficerWard!

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    Anonymous

    over 4 years ago

    Oops wrong post, disregard. Sounds like this officer was in a catch-22 in a bad situation. He would have been pilloried no matter what. Getting shot at didn't leave him much choice.

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    Anonymous

    over 4 years ago

    I will reinterate that in the Great State of Texas, the Code of Criminal Proceedure mandates that an officer may arrest without warrant for any felony that is committed in his presence or for any misdemeanor that is against the public peace. That coupled with local departmental policies and with the Law Enforcement Officer Safety Act signed into law by former President George W. Bush basically means that once you're a police officer, you are always mandated to protect life and property regardless if you are on duty or not. The officer would have been justified in a shooting but the fact that it's against a moving vehicle negated that so the only option left open to him when faced with a lethal force situation was to use his vehicle. It's unfortuniate that the individual was killed but the fact remains that it wouldn't have happened if he hadn't stolen the purse, hadn't discharged a shotgun towards an officer (who I should add since he was off duty and not in a marked unit but his own personal vehicle says to me that there is a high chance that the suspect didn't even know the officer was an officer and was shooting at what he thought might have been a civilian good samaritan) and if he wasn't riding around like a jackass in the bed of the truck. If he had committed the crime but was riding in the cab of the truck while wearing a seatbelt, he wouldn't have had the opportunity to fire at the pursuing officer who then would have had the chance to call for cover/backup and relay the vehichle information and direction of travel.

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    Anonymous

    over 4 years ago

    I AGREE WITH rsteade
    WOULD MAKE A GREAT DISCUSION AT NEXT PTA OR DARE MEETING

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    dma0771

    over 4 years ago

    132 Comments

    Its terible to think that the officer is damned for what he did and if he had not done it and they shot at someone else he would have been damned also. It sucks to think if only there had been bullets in the officers car or he or another person had been wounded he would be considered a hero, but because he was able to protect himself and the public he is possibly introuble. Why is it when the bad guy dies he is the damn victim if what we do resulted in his death. I think the officer did the right thing and hope he is not raked over the coals for it becasue the result will be alot more law enforcement standing by on the side lines not acting when we are off duty. I hope the public understands that.

  • Airborne_max50

    rsteade

    over 4 years ago

    1030 Comments

    I feel bad for the retired officer but stop making excuses for the actions of your kids and quit trying to divert blame. This off duty officer acted in both a reasonable and prudent manner when faced with the situation, it is your kids that are to blame for the outcome.

  • Img_2238_max50

    Lighthouse23

    over 4 years ago

    174 Comments

    When do the offenders take responsibility for what they done. Had they been acting correctly the boy would still be alive.

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    Anonymous

    over 4 years ago

    OfficerWard gets a "right on!". We too often want to blame everyone but the offender. I pray that the officer is vindicated.

  • Blue_ine_max50

    DCCarr

    over 4 years ago

    324 Comments

    I agree with OfficerWard's statements.

  • Untitledma28839986-0002_max50

    Irishcop1961

    over 4 years ago

    51114 Comments

    I will wait to see how this plays out. I wish the Officer the best of luck. Our department policy no way, no how, do you pursue or chase in a private vehicle. Be the best witness you can and use your cell phone and call it in and hang back and keep giving info until patrol unit get on scene. I hope the City of San Antonio backs the officer when the law suit comes.

  • Apdpatch_max50

    OfficerWard

    over 4 years ago

    1384 Comments

    Norman Owen, who retired from the Bexar County Sheriff’s Office about 15 years ago, I'm sorry to say it to you, but your kid was a POS FELON who chose to resort to deadly force in the commision of a crime. Whether the person following was civilian or LEO or a dog-catcher is of no consequence in this situation. The officer was well within his FEDERAL and civil rights to be doing what he was doing in this situation, and I am POSITIVE that the end result will be labeled as an "unfortunate turn of events" for the Owen brothers.
    As one dad to another, I am sorry for your loss, but as an LEO, you know in your heart that this is the result of some TERRIBLE choices made by those boys.

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