A Texas police officer has been charged with murder after chasing down and fatally shooting one of two teenagers he suspected of trying to break into his car.
An arrest warrant made public on Thursday said the officer, Ken Johnson, was arrested on Wednesday after confronting the two teenagers on Sunday in Farmers Branch, a Dallas suburb, because he believed they were trying to burglarize his car in the parking lot of his apartment complex.
The youths fled in a red Dodge Challenger, but the officer gave chase, the teenagers’ vehicle “spun out” of control, and he fired his weapon, the police said.
The shootings spurred a protest and left police officials facing questions about how an effort by Officer Johnson, 35, a member of the Farmers Branch Police Department, to stop what he believed to be an attempted burglary had spiraled into a shooting that left one teenager dead, another wounded and the officer facing murder and assault charges.
Asked if it was department policy for off-duty officers to chase suspects in their own vehicles, the Farmers Branch police chief, Sid Fuller, said bluntly, “No.”
“We have policies that deal with off-duty enforcement that we all follow,” he said during a news conference, according to The Dallas Morning News.
The dead teenager was identified as Jose Cruz, 16. Edgar R. Arevalo, whose age was not immediately available, sustained serious gunshot wounds in his hands and head and was taken to a hospital.
Officials said they were interviewing witnesses and investigating the shootings. It was unclear whether the two suspects were armed or whether Officer Johnson had identified himself as a police officer. On Thursday, a spokeswoman for the Dallas district attorney’s office said the case would be turned over to a grand jury.
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SOURCE: NY Times, Christine Hauser