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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.”

  • Photo_user_blank_big


    over 4 years ago

    I can not comment on the entire situation simply because I wasn't there and didn't see what happened. However, based on the story presented, I firmly believe the officer was justified in use of deadly force. I would just like to know how or why the officer was unable to call for assistance with his phone during the chase.

  • Gods_team_max50


    over 4 years ago


    “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.”--------If a burglar was breaking into his house in the middle of the night, would he shoot first and call the police or hide in the broom closet while dialing 911? Idiot!

  • 072_max50


    over 4 years ago


    What JP503 said...

  • Ribbon_max50


    over 4 years ago


    Sounds like the Officer was right............

  • Photo_user_blank_big


    over 4 years ago

    This is one of those cases that will be extremely interesting to follow. Not only for itself, but for the implications to every LEO out there.

    “San Antonio police officers have a responsibility to take action if they witness a crime”

    Well, that’s exactly what this Officer did. But they are just not sure about “how much action…” Is this a catch-22 or what…?

    The “kid” fired a shotgun at this Officer after commiting a Felony in his presence. Is that Deadly Force? Come on now…

    If the Officer didn’t take action, would this be in the news? Off course…!!! But surely not to congratulate the Officer for his lack of action…!!!

    The Officer’s actions were justified under the law. From his involvement to the use of force, in my view.

  • Photo_user_blank_big


    over 4 years ago


    Mabottsumc, From the read of this article, the officer was attempting to act as a good witness. What better information can a witness give toassist in locating a vehicle, thereby leading to the location of those in possession of said vehicle than to get the 28 off of the thing? The officer acted appropiately. Two purse snatchers made really poor decisions. Purse snatchers' dad needs to face the fact that his sons (Plural) caused his son's (Singular) death.

  • 74596_129289523905506_927477597_n_max50


    over 4 years ago


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

    ^^yeah, let's see what kind of action you'd take if you truly felt your life was in danger. Seriously, this is why kids are the way they are today....these idiotic parents don't teach their kids responsibility.

  • Parkside_crest_new_12-15-08_copy_max50


    over 4 years ago


    LtD, I couldn't have said it any better. The problem with society nowadays, there is no accountability.

    The officer did his job, on, or off duty; and as a result a POS died. I don't see the problem here.

  • Dsc00052_max50


    over 4 years ago


    Wouldn't it have been nice if the father of the shotgun toting felon, A FORMER POLICE OFFICER HIMSELF, simply apologized for both his son's conduct and grieved his loss without deflecting blame for his apparent poor parenting onto someone else......

  • Eagle_and_flag_max50


    over 4 years ago


    A 23 year old and an 18 year old (both adults) commit a felony. It's the officer's responsibility to react. He was fired on when he got close enough to read the license plate. The 23 year old crashed, ejected the 18 year old (riding in an open bed of a pick-up truck) resulting in the 18 year old's fatal injuries. At what point did the officer "ram" their truck? And was it confirmed that the officer rammed the truck? Guess I'm kind of confused and don't really see a problem here.

  • Marshal_badge_max50


    over 4 years ago


    Be a good witness off duty. Don't create a situation. By pursuing these kids off duty, not in uniform, it puts the officer in a bad place. Be a good witness and step in only when a major injury or death is possible.

    If he was on duty and in a patrol car in uniform I would see no problem.

  • Mvc-026f1_max50


    over 4 years ago


    18 or 80, the shotgun doesn't know an age. It wouldn't be any less deadly in that teens hands then anyone else. The officer used his tools at hand to prevent a menace to society from going out and killing some innocent person. I bet the officer would be named a hero if the kid had stuck someone else during the pursuit, in my book, the officer is a hero. Way to make it home to your family officer. Hope the older brother feels guilty for the rest of his life.

  • Chris_and_i_in_uniform_max50


    over 4 years ago


    I don't see a problem here.

  • Photo_user_blank_big


    over 4 years ago


    I think this kid got what was coming to him. You commit a crime pay the price! This off duty officer did his job. At less no one else around got hurt. yeah the kid is dead, but the officer would have been dead too, so good thing he did what he had to do.

  • Mourning_badge_max160_1__max50


    over 4 years ago


    Glock I agree, lay the blame at the feet of the violator. I can understand that fathers confusion and anger, he's an excop and father, he's entitled to that, however if his son is the one that stole the purse, ran and then shot at a vehicle....shame on the kid. Well done officer

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