Letters to the Editor 5/22/2014
To whom it may concern:
I have lived in Hearne, TX for 6 years now. I have found it to be relatively quiet until recently. The tragic events that surrounded the death of Pearlie Golden on May 6, 2014 have shaken this small community and have caused a potentially volatile situation. As a resident and as a mother, I feel that it is imperative for the inflammatory speech and threats of violence to end. I feel that only one side of this story is being told though, and there has been a disturbing bias in the media. That is why I am writing this letter.
I want to begin by stating that I have never had the opportunity to meet either Ms. Golden or Officer Stem. I am praying for all involved along with their families. I can only imagine what they are going through, and I hope they find peace no matter what the outcome of the numerous investigations that are currently ongoing.
I find it strange that there were accusations of murder and corruption within hours of this incident with so few facts released. I could not believe that some were already jumping to conclusions and demanding the officer be charged, convicted and sentenced to hard prison time. I am not blind to the fact that there are individuals that will abuse power when it is given to them. There are officers out there that have crossed the line, some even more than once, and in heinous ways. They may wear a badge, but they are no different than any other person out there. There are also amazing men and women who risk their lives daily to defend our lives, our property and the general safety of our communities. Their jobs are dangerous and most of time thankless. Those hard working, selfless individuals would not find it within their best interests to cover up the wrong doing of coworkers. The oath that one takes when sworn in as an officer of the law says the following:
On my honor,
I will never betray my badge, my integrity, my character, or the public trust. I will always have the courage to hold myself and others accountable for our actions. I will always uphold the constitution my community and the agency I serve.
The facts that have now been released from the police and witnesses paint a very different picture than what was originally presented. As I understand the facts, Ms. Golden’s nephew called 911, in fear for his own life, because Ms. Golden was threatening him with a gun. When officers arrived on scene they found her on the front porch of her home with a revolver in hand. The officers asked her numerous times to lower her weapon, but she instead fired at least twice, hitting the ground. It was then that Officer Stem returned fire and wounded her. Unfortunately, she lost her life a few hours later due to her wounds.
In a situation like this there are no easy choices. There is no time to fully think through outcomes or repercussions. You have time only to look at the situation as it is and act as best you can given facts and reason. Both officers that responded initially to that 911 call were facing a difficult and dangerous situation where there were no clear cut solutions to resolve the conflict peacefully. They were presented with a domestic disturbance, involving a weapon, which had already escalated and spiraled out of control. Statistically speaking, these types of situations are some of the most fatal for officers.
I will not speculate as to what either the officers or Ms Golden’s intentions were. I will say that it seems as though Officer Stem acted in defense of not only himself and his fellow officer on scene, but of the nephew and other innocent bystanders in the area. However, that cannot be determined yet as all facts have not been fully disclosed to the public.
The system we have in place in this country works amazingly well, better by far than any other across the world, when given the freedom and time to do so. It is hard for us as people to accept that truth and justice are at times slow to arrive, but patience is imperative in situations such as this. If we truly desire the truth and justice that has been demanded then I would implore the people to trust the system. There are multiple agencies investigating this tragedy, and they need the support of the people to find answers. If it is found that Officer Stem acted inappropriately then I have faith in our justice system that he will pay for any crime it is determined he committed. It will not bring back the life that was lost, but the people will have their justice. By the same token, if the investigation shows that he acted in the best interest of public safety I pray that he is met with forgiveness and compassion.
In closing, I would like to state that I feel Mayor Gomez’s public comments on May 8, 2014, in regards to his recommendation to terminate Officer Stem’s employment, were premature and unprofessional. Instead, the public should have been assured of the competence and professionalism of the Texas Rangers, the Hearne Police Department, the District Attorney’s Office of Robertson County and our justice system as a whole. It seemed as though he was inflaming the situation and his comments did nothing but cause more unrest. Let me be clear, I am not passing judgment on anyone nor will I lay blame at anyone’s feet. I am simply asking that we let the investigations conclude and the truth be found. Those who seek to gain publicity or use events such as this for political gain will only have a voice as long as we listen. I beg the community to please wait for the facts and not allow outside forces to divide us.
Liz H. Hearne, TX