Skip to comments.Illegal immigrant charged in HPD shooting death
Posted on 09/22/2006 1:15:32 PM PDT by WatchingInAmazement
A 32-year-old illegal immigrant has been charged in Thursday evening's shooting death of Houston Police Officer Rodney Johnson.
Juan Leonardo Quintero has been charged with capital murder in the 248th District Court, said HPD spokesman John Cannon.
The suspect is an illegal immigrant from Mexico who has been deported in the past and sometimes expressed concern about immigration officials and worried that he should return, his wife, Theresa Quintero, said in an interview today at their home near Hobby Airport.
Mrs. Quintero said the couple has been married since 1997.
The HPD spokesman Cannon said the suspect gave "a full confession" to the shooting.
A Harris County prosecutor said in court this morning that, while seated in the back seat, the suspect pulled a 9 mm handgun from his waistband and shot Johnson in the face. The officer was able to push an emergency response button, alerting dispatch of a problem.
When other police arrived at the scene, Quintero remained in the back seat with the gun in his hand, the prosecutor said. Police found bullet casings inside the car.
Quintero kept his head down while waiting to be called before the judge. During a brief hearing, he answered "Yes'' when asked whether he understood the charge against him.
Quintero's record shows he received deferred adjudication for a 1998 charge of indecency with a child, according to Harris County records.
Also on his record are a 1996 charge of driving with a suspended license, a misdemeanor, and a driving while intoxicated conviction in 1995.
The simple traffic stop turned suddenly tragic Thursday evening when the veteran Houston police officer was shot and killed as he sat in the front seat of his patrol car near Hobby Airport.
Just after 5 p.m., Johnson had stopped a pickup with two people inside. It was unclear why he detained or handcuffed the driver, though an officer familiar with the incident said he had no identification on him. At least one female passenger left, possibly with Johnson's permission, but Police Chief Harold Hurtt said he thought officers had found the woman and were bringing her to headquarters for questioning.
A source familiar with the scene said Johnson was shot four times through the plastic shield separating the front and rear seats. Johnson managed to push his emergency button before collapsing. The 12-year veteran of the department was taken to Ben Taub General Hospital where he was pronounced dead.
The suspect reportedly struggled as officers tried to move him to a different vehicle.
"They finally got him in the other car, but he was scratching and fighting and acting crazy, like he could win in a fight like that," said Clara Rodriguez, who lives nearby.
Johnson, 40, was the first HPD officer killed in more than two years.
"He was very personable," Hurtt said. "We will miss one of our true soldiers in Rodney Johnson."
At least a dozen law enforcement vehicles cordoned off a large area at Randolph and Braniff where the light bar atop Johnson's patrol car continued to flash long after the shooting. Temporary spotlights illuminated the scene into the evening as evidence technicians scoured the area. The owner of a nearby machine shop was called to the scene because bullets apparently pierced the wall of his building and investigators needed to get inside.
Before the suspect was taken to HPD headquarters, he was stripped of his clothes, which were placed in evidence bags, and dressed in a white jumpsuit. He was then taken downtown in the second of three patrol cars that left the scene shortly after 7 p.m.
'It just breaks my heart' As news of Johnson's death spread, police officers gathered in small groups but said little. One HPD sergeant walked to a patrol car, took out his cell phone and made a quick phone call, taking a long drink of cold water from a bottle.
"Something real bad has happened by the airport," he said.
Rodriguez said that she and her neighbors in the small subdivision between Telephone Road and Almeda Genoa knew Johnson well and that he was well-liked.
"He would always wave and smile when he saw me," Rodriguez said. "He was a real nice guy. All he was trying to do was enforce the rules."
Rodriguez said Johnson stopped her once for speeding when the speed limit was lowered on Telephone Road. She said he politely asked her to slow down and did not ticket her.
"He was just so very nice," she said. "He was not ever mean. It just breaks my heart. I feel so very bad for his wife. He got up and went to work this morning, and this is what happened. This is what happened to one of the people who protects us, who truly took care of us."
Johnson graduated from high school in Oakland, Calif., then enlisted in the Army, serving as an MP until he was honorably discharged in 1990. He served as a corrections officer for the Texas Department of Corrections (now the Texas Department of Criminal Justice) and as a Houston police jailer before attending the police academy and graduating in 1994.
Johnson was assigned to the southeast division that year and to the southeast gang task force in 1996. While on the task force he received two Lifesaving Awards from the department and one Medal of Valor from the state. He was married to Houston police officer Joslyn Johnson. They have three daughters and two sons.
The The 100 Club is issuing a $10,000 check to Johnson's family for any immediate costs associated with his death and will provide the family with further assistance later.
The group's Survivors Fund provides benefits to the dependents of peace officers and firefighters who are killed in the line of duty.
A familiar scene Thursday's incident was similar to the shooting of Houston police officer G.P. Gaddis in 1994. Gaddis was murdered by one of two aggravated robbery suspects he was taking to jail for aggravated robbery. Both had been searched and handcuffed behind their backs before being placed in the back seat of the patrol car.
Edgar Arias Tamayo managed to maneuver his hands, still cuffed, to his front and retrieved a pistol hidden in his clothes. He then shot Gaddis in the back of the head as he was driving. The patrol car crashed into a house, and the suspect escaped from the wrecked car, but was arrested nearby.
Tamayo was convicted of capital murder and is on death row. The shooting prompted criticism of the department by police union officials who claimed Gaddis' death could have been prevented if patrol units carried two officers.
According to a police department patrol veteran, within the past two years all HPD officers were required to attend an in-service training refresher class on proper search technique. However, he said, the unique circumstances of each incident dictate how thoroughly a suspect is searched. Search procedures also are outlined in the department's general orders manual, the officer said.
"The degree of search can range from a strip search to a cursory pat-down," said the officer, who requested anonymity out fear of departmental reprisals. "If the person is just a witness or if (the stop) is just a traffic violation, you might just put them in the back of your (patrol) car to do the paperwork. If the suspect is high risk or wanted on a felony, then you need to do more than a pat-down. But even then, you can still miss a weapon. It's part of the job. And this isn't the first time an officer has been killed with a suspect in the back seat."
Nor was it out of the ordinary for a one-man patrol unit such as Johnson to arrest one or more suspects without calling for backup, the officer said.
In the estimation of the officer, the department's well-publicized staffing shortage leaves approximately 80 percent of all HPD patrol units with a single officer. There is no protocol mandating that single-patrol officers call for backup while making arrests, he added.
"If we called for backup every time we made an arrest, nothing would get done," the officer said. "Lots of officers arrest multiple suspects by themselves. But would it be safer with two officers? Absolutely."
News of Johnson's death hit the department hard, especially Hans Marticiuc, president of the Houston Police Officers' Union, who said he was a close friend.
"He was very, very safety conscious," Marticiuc said. "He knows how to search. He worked in the jail for a number of years and all they do is search prisoners down there. "
Johnson served on the union's board of directors.
Other officer deaths The last Houston police officer killed in the line of duty was Frank M. Cantu, who was hit by a drunk driver in Montrose in March 2004. The driver was charged with intoxication manslaughter.
Three officers have been wounded in shootings since then, however. The most recent occurred in January 2005 in west Houston. Officer Ronald V. Pinkerton was shot twice as he approached a vehicle that had rear-ended him.
The last fatal shooting of a Houston police officer involved Charles R. Clark in 2003. Clark, a 20-year veteran, was killed while responding to a silent alarm at a check cashing store on South Loop 610.
In July 2005, 33-year-old reserve Deputy Constable Nehemiah Pickens was killed by friendly fire during a chase in northeast Houston. Pickens, who was armed but not in uniform, was shot four times in the back by a deputy sheriff.
About 100 Houston police officers have been killed in the line of duty since 1860.
Chronicle reporters Eric Hanson, Steve McVicker, Anne Marie Kilday, Peggy O'Hare, Jennifer Radcliffe, Mike Glenn and Todd Ackerman contributed to this report.
# Detective Hugo Arango, 24 Doroville Police Department, Georgia Murdered May 13, 2000
# Officer Michael Dunman Salt Lake City Police Department, Utah Killed July 17, 2000
# Deputy Michael Schapp Los Angeles County Sheriffs Department, California Shot and injured September 25, 2000
# Deputy Sheriff David March, 33 Los Angeles County Sheriffs Department, California Murdered April 29, 2002
# Ranger Kriss Eggle, 28 National Park Service Murdered, August 9, 2002
* Officer Enrique Hernandez, 27 Las Vegas Police Department, Nevada Shot and critically injured on December 12, 2002
* Officer Robert Sitek Phoenix Police Department, Arizona Shot and critically injured, April 12, 2003
* Officer Tony Zeppetella, 27 Oceanside Police Department, California Murdered June 13, 2003
* Officer Matthew Pavelka, 26 Burbank Police Department, California Murdered November 15, 2003
* Agent James Paul Epling, 24 U. S. Border Patrol Drowned during pursuit of suspected illegal aliens, December 16, 2003 * Bisbee Arizona Police Department, Arizona February 17, 2004
*Officer Robert Bryant Denver Police Department Intentionally struck with vehicle, January 22, 2004
* Officer Derek Whipps Boise Police Department, Idaho Shot and critically injured, February 28, 2004
*Deputies Daniel Dail and Victor Locklin Los Angeles County Sheriffs Department Shot at with an AK-47 on April 9, 2004
*Officer William Will Seuis Oakland Police Department Hit and killed on July 24, 2004
*Deputy Brandon Brandy Winfield Marion County Sheriffs Department Shot and Killed on October 17, 2004
How dare the police hassle these hard working "immigrants".
Please make sure he gets to talk to his consular officials so when he goes to the death bed the mexican government has nothing to say
Over 30% of the inmates in Federal penitentiaries are illegal invaders.
Kinky Friedman, running for governor of texas, has vowed 10,000 texas national Gaurd troops on the border, require new workers picture ID cards and fine businesses $25K for the first illegal working and then $50k for each illegal after that.
This is why his poll numbers, as an independent, are showing he could win (over 23% and rising).
He also vowed to fund $100M for new cops for Houston.
Bush, Cheney and Chertoff should all be charged criminally, or sued in civil court.
My partner "shook down" a suspect, and after putting the cuffs on him I shook him down again before putting him in the car. My partner had missed the .25 automatic in his pants, but I fortunately found it.
The officer either didn't "shake him down", or did a bad job of it.
LEOs, don't ever, ever, ever put someone in your car that hasn't been thoroughly searched!
Trooper James Saunders, Washington State Patrol, Oct 1999 in the Tri-Cities.
The $100million in police to tackle violent crime in Houston would be good.
Too much local money has been diverted to help MayorBob's real estate buddies. He did it in the past too (remember when Tom DeLay got on MayorBob for using rail money to pay for Metro cops?).
And I'd be very interested in seeing the number of traffic tickets written in the past few years. Seems to be quite an uptick on revenue tickets.
Hundreds of people are dying in the streets of Houston every year and NONE of them signed up for a job to put their lives on the line for others.
Every death is a tragedy.
(sorry for all the crime posts... in GOOD news, Roger Clemens will be pitching one final time in Houston, this Sunday...)
Does anyone know why he cuffed and put this scumbag in the squad car? It was a routine stop for speeding.
In 5 - 7 years, he's going to get the needle, and the Mexican government will have a hissy fit.
The news report I heard said it was not yet determined. Several people were travelling (including a woman who may have been sent on her way).
The police are trying to get statements from those who were there to determine why he was arrested.
Sometimes it can be for something like giving a false name.
I appreciate the efforts of all policemen. I wouldn't want their jobs especially for the monetary renumeration they receive. That said, it isn't just cops being killed, injured, raped etc by these illegals.
What the hell is it that the politicos in this country allow millions of undocumented, illegals to come into this country?
Are politicians that stupid?
I wonder if we're going to hear from LULAC on this. Maybe they'll argue that if we didn't deport people this officer wouldn't have been killed.
It appears an illegal has snatched the mother and a hic child last night here in STL. They are belived to be on a bus heading for Vincente land..
Somebody ping DANE. He might want to contribute to this a$$holes legal defense fund.
Oh my God, 5 kids left fatherless, a wife and co-law enforcement professional devastated.
The tragedy of such an event cannot be measured.
Honor to the fallen, and sincere condolences to the family.
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