Woman, 93, killed by police after failing driving test

Taking car keys away from someone who shouldn’t be driving can be dangerous.

In Texas, a 93-year-old woman who failed a driver’s license exam became so upset when her nephew tried to take away her driving privileges she picked up a revolver.

The nephew said the woman, Pearlie Golden, threatened him so he called police in Hearne, Texas, which is located near the middle of the triangle formed by Dallas, Houston and San Antonio.

The arriving officer saw Golden waving a gun around in her yard and asked her to put down her weapon, but eventually he shot at her at least five times. CNN reports she was struck twice. Golden died at a hospital Wednesday night.

Details from the shooting were not released, but neighbors question why police shot the “sweet, sweet woman” known as Miss Sully.

“Even if she did have a gun, she is in her 90s,” Lawanda Cooke told the local TV station. “They could have shot in the air to scare her. Maybe she would have dropped it. I don’t see her shooting anyone.”

The officer, Stephen Stem, has been placed on paid leave.

In 2012, Stem shot and killed a man who was shooting a gun from a car in an apartment parking lot. He was not charged in that shooting.

This story made me think of a few questions:

  • When should younger folks take the keys away from older folks? My grandfather was a better driver at 85 than many people on I-85 are today.
  • What’s the best way to get the car keys?
  • Would this have happened in a state with stricter gun laws?
  • Why did the cop feel threatened enough to shoot?
  • Should police treat a situation involving an elderly gunman differently?

What do you think?

More news to ponder Thursday:

101 comments Add your comment

Bernie31

May 8th, 2014
9:49 am

I have found from personal experience the best way is to RAT Them out in their presence in front of their Primary Care Physician. This typically gets better results. The ole ” My Doctor, Told Me so”. allows for better face saving for seniors.

Hate this country

May 8th, 2014
9:55 am

Another example why there is no hope for america. One side you have a 90 year old person is the typical example of person who shouldn’t have access to guns due to her age and temper. So,why there is a driving test to make sure she is not a danger to the public,but not a psychiatric test to reveal if she is mentally stable to handle a more dangerous responsibility of a gun? On the other hand you have trigger-happy thugs with badges. Why the go thru extensive shooting training,why they have tazers,pepper sprays etc. Shot her 5 times!!! No hope for this hell hole if a country with people like that…

Brookhaven Guy

May 8th, 2014
9:58 am

Cop should be prosecuted but probably will not even be reprimanded

jiml

May 8th, 2014
10:11 am

When should younger folks take the keys away from older folks? My grandfather was a better driver at 85 than many people on I-85 are today.

What’s the best way to get the car keys? I agree with Bernie if for nothing more than it gives the relative plausible deniability.

Would this have happened in a state with stricter gun laws? Yes. The gun laws make no difference.If she didn’t have a gun she may have had sword or a hammer.

Why did the cop feel threatened enough to shoot? As an ex-cop, I don’t care if you’re 9 or 90 if you’re waving a gun around and refuse to drop the gun and either level it at me or somebody else you’re getting shot.

Should police treat a situation involving an elderly gunman differently? You know what, if a 9 year old shoots you in the head or a 90 year old shoots you in the head your still just as dead. So No, the officer shouldn’t treat it any differently than he did.

What do you think? With what very little information this article gives and only going on the information in this article I would say that the police officer acted according to his training.

Dwarf8th

May 8th, 2014
10:14 am

Perhaps the cops should consider that she couldn’t see or hear well at that age. That might make a difference in her response/recognition time.

jiml

May 8th, 2014
10:16 am

“Hate This Country”, I really hate your screen name. If you really and truly do hate this country then please, by all means, surrender your citizenship and move you behind to another country. Nothing, nothing at all is keeping you here.

sassylady89

May 8th, 2014
10:17 am

I guarantee that this woman was AA, it seems to me that they are the only ones who are shot repeatedly!

sassylady89

May 8th, 2014
10:18 am

In addition, she probably couldn’t hear the warning to drop the gun!!!

Denise

May 8th, 2014
10:21 am

I wish he had just let the air out of the tires instead of get the police involved. I know he wishes he hadn’t done this now…at least I hope. This is a very sad story. There could have been another way to handle this. Police are already trigger happy!!!

Denise

May 8th, 2014
10:23 am

@jiml…you prove my point…cops, ex-cops, want to be cops are ALL gun happy. But you never see them (cops) shoot themselves….hmm. I’ve always wondered how you sleep at night when you take someone’s life and then go have a beer over it. SMH…sad, very sad.

Denise

May 8th, 2014
10:24 am

@Dwarf8th…that’s too much like right…makes too much sense. Not how cops think…kill first, go have a beer and get put on paid leave of absence.

Denise

May 8th, 2014
10:25 am

OMG…and it was in TEXAS. That explains it all.

Beretta

May 8th, 2014
10:25 am

Unfortunate, but she lived a long life and went out on her own terms, which is more than most people can say. RIP. The way the event is presented in the blurb is clearly slanted against the cop. But again this blog is supposed to be about sensationalism, so kudos George, good choice. Who the heck knows what happened or why the cop felt he had to shoot at her five times and miss three. One thing is for certain, that cop needs more training at the range. Maybe he needs marksman training from All-American Hero, Stevie Segal. I once saw an episode of his law enforcment docu-drama where he gave some pointers to a struggling cop on the range. Don’t shoot the gun, push the bullet and guide it with your energy to it’s detination. There was marked improvement and Stevie boy had some incedibly tight groups. Ah the magic of TV editing!

rl1

May 8th, 2014
10:27 am

So, let me get this straight… there is a woman, armed with a gun, waving it around, yet you all expect the officer to do nothing? Or even worse, shoot in to the air? You are the same lot that would be trying to hang the officer when the bullet came down and killed someone, or if someone had been killed when the lady fired the pistol, even on accident. If you all hate the police so much, move to a country that doesn’t have them. And shame on you, Mr. Mathis, for writing a story without all the facts. You have no idea if the woman pointed the weapon at the officer, at her nephew, or someone else. You also don’t know if she fired the gun, giving the officer no choice but to do his job and protect him and others. You being called a journalist is as misleading as the title for this “story”

jiml

May 8th, 2014
10:46 am

Denise, you know absolutely nothing of protecting yourself or somebody else. As somebody who has done both I can tell you that regardless of age, sex, race or religion if you don’t drop your weapon when commanded to and continue in acting in what I can only infer as a dangerous manner then I will shoot you, period.

Why the officer fired five shots and IF all five were aimed at her or the ground I do not know the article never states. It also doesn’t state if the lady fired her weapon either at the officer or somebody else in general. I do know that I will not allow somebody with a lethal weapon to continue to hazard the public and myself without intervention. If my intervention means she dies then so be it. Killing her would not be my intent or I bet this officers intent. The intent was to render her harmless and to cease the assault on the public and the officer.

Until you’ve served this country in the armed forces or as a police officer then I invite you to keep your unknowing comments to yourself. By espousing those comments about what the office should have or not have done only shows your ignorance of the demands placed upon a police officer.

Mark

May 8th, 2014
10:46 am

Disable the car. Pull ignition wire, pull the spark plug boots back away from plugs, pull relay from fuse block…..many ways to disable the car. Ganny or Granpa will not have to give up the keys. But they can’t drive what then can’t start. Works like a charm. Just make sure you keep up with attempted repairs and keep the car disabled.

THe Geezer

May 8th, 2014
10:46 am

The only justification I can think of for shooting her is if she was aiming the gun at the officer or there were other people very close to her and she was waving the gun around and could have killed another person.

Even if you shoot to wound a 93 year old, the chances are they are not going to survive surgery. Sad and trajic.

And perhaps it was suicide by cop. Lost her independence so maybe she thought it was time to check out. Lot of factors to consider here that arn’t in the story.

Morgz's

May 8th, 2014
10:46 am

YES, definitely treat them differently, b/c the bullets that are fired from the gun of an elderly person travel slower than those that are fired from a gun of a younger person!! Those bullets probably can’t even hurt you if you get shot!

DunwoodyGranny

May 8th, 2014
10:52 am

There is no way to take the keys away from an adult who won’t face facts. My mother knew she was making mistakes behind the wheel and she gave up her keys willingly. My father insisted he was fine, even when he had repeated fender benders, got lost in his own neighborhood, and drove to the musical sounds of horns all around him. We kids staged several interventions, to no effect. We talked to the DMV, but they don’t have any procedure for just taking a license away. We tried to get his insurance agent to help and struck out there, too.

If we had simply taken the keys, Dad was intelligent enough to call in the VIN to a dealership and get a new key made. If we had taken the car away, Dad would have reported it stolen, because he was angry with us by then.

Bernie is right; the doctor was finally our salvation. He stepped up and told Dad it was time to get off the road. Dad listened to him because the doctor was a doctor, not a know-nothing child like my siblings and me.

jiml

May 8th, 2014
10:54 am

Morgz’s, LOL, I had to read your post twice. At first I couldn’t believe what I was reading. LOL!! Old person, bullets moving slower, maybe she had old ammunition in the gun or maybe an old gun, the bullets would dang near crawl out the barrel. LOL!!!

GymJacket

May 8th, 2014
10:57 am

“What’s the best way to get the car keys?” I agree with Bernie31, and actually used the same tactic with my grandmother. Guns were removed from her house a year before that.
I feel for the nephew. I am care giver for my grandmother, and constantly worry that I am making the right decisions for her. Pretty sure the nephew is hurting, and wondering what he could have done differently.

jiml

May 8th, 2014
11:04 am

GymJacket, you’re absolutely correct. I know he wishes he never called the police. Unfortunately, once you call the police they have to diffuse the situation before they can leave. They can’t arrive to her all upset and waving a gun around and leave, they just can’t.

People listen, when you call the police think of it as a hammer. If you can only resort to police intervention then every problem becomes a nail. Once you make that 911 call it pretty much is out of your hands, they are on the way and you either better have the situation diffused before they arrive or stand back once they do arrive. Call the police very, very sparingly, you don’t need the police to be into your family business unless absolutely necessary.

Bumper

May 8th, 2014
11:05 am

Do we know if her gun was even loaded?

Unless the woman presented an iminent threat, i.e. firing the gun, the cop should’ve at the very least held off and called for supervisor backup. Based on the limited information given it appears this guy is in the wrong line of work, his law enforcement duties should perhaps be limited to (unarmed) school crossing guard.

Scott65

May 8th, 2014
11:05 am

Moral of the story: Never ever call the police unless you want to see your grandma, child or pet shot.

Juan

May 8th, 2014
11:07 am

I’ll side with jiml on this one. Police are there to stop the threat. If words work, then there is no shooting. You can’t demand anyone use a lessor force when faced with a deadly threat. People think the cops are trigger happy, but there are countless citizen/police contacts each day where the “thugs with badges” don’t shoot anyone. I’m more concerned with how many African Americans kill other African Americans each day and no one seems to give a crap about that.

jiml

May 8th, 2014
11:13 am

Bumper, let me point my gun at you and you tell me if it is loaded or not. You say call for supervisor backup? What if there wasn’t time to wait for that or better yet, what if he was the supervisor. Then what? Get back in the patrol car and leave? He can’t do that.

I don’t know why you say he is in the wrong line of work. What in this article would ever lead you to think that. I was fortunate, I worked for the Detroit PD and I’ve been shot at numerous times but I’ve only been able to return fire three times. Every time I’ve had to draw my sidearm the situation immediately diffused, Detroit cops back then weren’t exactly known to negotiate with criminals to get them to give up. Either they gave up or they were shot.

Squad 51

May 8th, 2014
11:18 am

I find it interesting that most people are ignoring the behavior of the deceased. According to the story, her nephew took her car keys because the Texas DPS would not renew her license, an act that most would see as beneficial to not only the eventual victim but society at large. After all, there was some reason that DPS determined that she was not fit to operate a motor vehicle, such as poor vision. It is hard to speculate since the story does not provide all of the pertinent information. However, why did the deceased feel the need to retrieve a gun and threaten a family member? Yes it is sad that the elderly female died, but this is a much different scenario than the botched Kathryn Johnston “raid” by APD where she fired upon the police officers after they were the aggressors (cutting down burglar bars and forcing entry into the residence). In this case, Ms. Golden was the aggressor because she retrieved the gun and threatened another individual. With so much discussion about gun control, when will people realize that they are ultimately responsible for their own actions? There is only one reason that I would take my weapon and aim it at another individual: defense of my family or self. As unfortunate as the story is, Ms. Golden bears responsibility for the outcome. One cannot assume that a person would not shoot another individual because of age. Thankfully I never had the desire to be a law enforcement officer, because this type of situation is a lose/lose. I hope that the truth is disclosed, and that if the officer acted inappropriately that he is reprimanded. I also hope that people will learn from this and think about the implications of drawing a weapon in the presence of another.

Hate this country

May 8th, 2014
11:28 am

If america has had a well developed public transportation like the civilized world does-this wouldn’t be an issue. Oh,no-riding with a stranger on subway,it’s so un-american and infringes on America’s God given,favorite virtue-”privacy”

jiml

May 8th, 2014
11:28 am

Squad 51 you’re thankful that you never had a desire to be law enforcement. Let me tell you, I have friends who are LEO and who have been LEO and many of them wish they never had anything to do with law enforcement. Law enforcement is the most thankless job in the world. Nobody likes seeing a cop unless they need one and then they can’t get there fast enough.

jiml

May 8th, 2014
11:35 am

Hate this country, how old are you? what’s your birthdate? what’s your social security number? Are you married? Which way do you swing?, what’s your address? how much money do you make?

No of my business right??? That’s private information right?? Yes, privacy is very, very important to all of us. It is very important to many people, it is one of the reasons people choose to immigrate here and not Spain or France etc…

If you can find a better Country please move there. Also, before you leave, please let us know what this better Country is. I’ve been ALL over the world while in the Navy and I can tell you, no country compares to the US.

lac

May 8th, 2014
11:47 am

jiml, if that was your mother would you have shot and killed her…no

Linda

May 8th, 2014
11:47 am

Don’t have answers to the first few questions about driver’s licenses. As for gun laws, I have no idea. She was in her home.

I think this is a case of a bad cop. In his 3 years on the job, he has now killed 2 people. Both of them are black. His first shooting in Dec 2012 was very questionable. He shot a 28 year old man. The 28 yr old possibly had some mental health issues. The African American community was very upset over the first shooting, but the cop was cleared and returned to work on May 9th 2013.

Now this.

Hearne has a population of only 4,500. How often do cops shoot citizens in towns this small? This guy has shot two citizens with a period of 1 and 1/2 years. At the very least, I hope the community will be able to get this guy kicked off the police force. I hope he is never a cop anywhere else.

The Sage

May 8th, 2014
11:49 am

There are just some idiots who bash cops no matter what the circumstances are. When someone is pointing a gun at you, it only takes one finger for them to end your life. She obviously has mental health problems. The cop told her to drop the gun, she refused. Would YOU bet your life that she’s going to act rationally and NOT pull the trigger? She’s already displayed deranged behavior, would any of you cop bashers be willing to take that risk?

Oh look! 90 year old people CAN commit murder!

http://www.wsfa.com/story/10368933/90-year-old-arrested-for-troy-murder

Drexel Gal

May 8th, 2014
11:52 am

I agree that the cop had no reason to shoot a 93-year-old woman five times. However, to the mouth-breather who said that the cop should have shot in the AIR to scare (or warn) her: Isaac Newton revealed that objects (such as, bullets) that are launched into the air fall back to Earth (assuming the bullet doesn’t reach “escape speed” of 17,500 MPH … which is won’t). If anything, a warning shot should be fired into SOFT ground (ricochet, you know). Fire in the air, and the round comes down at virtually the same speed as when it left the barrel … and someone could be hit in the skull.

PR

May 8th, 2014
12:02 pm

Why was she allowed to even be near a car? Where did she get the gun? This woman should’ve been in a nursing home. She was told to put the gun down..she didn’t listen…she paid the consequences. No sympathy for her.

jiml

May 8th, 2014
12:04 pm

You never fire a warning shot, ever…ever. Very dangerous to do that and very, very irresponsible. He didn’t shoot the lady 5 times, he fired 5 shots and hit her twice.

As for the one who asked if I would shot my own mother I don’t know what to say. People always say that there are no stupid questions, but that is sure stupid.

No, I wouldn’t shoot my own mother. But in this given this situation with the little information presented here I wouldn’t blame the officer for shooting her.

Jack ®

May 8th, 2014
12:22 pm

Maybe the cop will give his own mother a bouquet this Sunday if she’s not carrying a gun.

coj

May 8th, 2014
12:37 pm

You know what I find deplorable? The cop shot five times and hit her twice. Once should have been enough. But many cops will discharge their guns at the slightest provocation. Glad there wasn’t any bystanders that were also shot by the cop because that happens quite frequently.

Sk8ing Momma

May 8th, 2014
12:44 pm

@ Morgz — I’m right there with you! The age of the potential assailant does not matter — really!

Notes to self: 1. Pray that I age gracefully and have the wisdom to know when I no longer need to be behind the wheel of a car. 2. Do not be a road hazard to self or others. 3. Respectfully accept feedback from those who think I should no longer drive.

Sparks

May 8th, 2014
12:50 pm

Public transportation in Hearne Texas? Hateful one….have you ever been to Hearne Texas? The cop did what he had to do and I’m sure it wasn’t something he would choose to do if circumstances hadn’t pressed the issue.

OhAmercia

May 8th, 2014
12:52 pm

Rest in peace to the victim! LOL at the comments. God bless America! Things get more interesting by the day. Nothing is surprising!

Billy

May 8th, 2014
1:08 pm

I’d say to Deputy Dawg, “next time, shoot her in the leg if you have to shoot her at all,” but, methinks there will not be a next time for this policeman. And the next time you take the car keys away from a woman, put two sleeping tablets and a dose of midol in the rheumatism toddy. Wont’ do a thing about her temper, but when the cops show up to address her disturbance of the peace, you can say she was suicidal and ate a whole bottle of sleeping pills. Forensics will prove your point and land her in the pysch ward, where thankfully, expert diagnoses find ALL the women crazy…

Bill

May 8th, 2014
1:09 pm

No matter your age, if you point a gun @ a cop, you’re gonna get put down, which is what you deserve if you’re dumb enough to do that. He’s gonna be reprimanded, demoted, fired, whatever, for the 5 shots, not for the fact that he shot an armed person pointing a gun at him. Every single one of you would do the same thing if it were you in that position and you…damn…well…know…it.

Bill

May 8th, 2014
1:11 pm

And by the way, don’t ever fire a gun into the air. Where do you think the bullet is gonna land?!

Bosstone

May 8th, 2014
1:24 pm

The only person that knows what they are talking about is Jiml. Thank you Jiml (from a prosecutor) for letting people know whats what.

If you are waiving around a gun and not putting it down when commanded by police, you will (and should be) shot. FYI…I am not even close to being a big 2nd amendment guy.

The number of shots thing is a little weird…shouldn’t be firing warning shots at all, so the police officer either lacked training or actually missed 3 shots (which he shouldn’t do either).

jiml

May 8th, 2014
1:42 pm

Thank you Bosstone. I agree the 3 superfluous shots are a little disconcerting. But us not having the full picture from the officers point of view such as surprise, time of day, location and weather conditions it’s hard to second guess the extra rounds. Those rounds may very well be extremely bad marksmanship or they may be legitimate attempts. The internal affairs investigation into the officer involved shooting will reveal what’s up.

motocross survivor

May 8th, 2014
1:50 pm

He feared for his life . It’s the phrase that give cops a license to murder evidently. He was also a lousy marksman. 2 out of 5 shots hit the target, which was probably pretty close. I can just see a panicky fatboy with a badge firing and screaming.

motocross survivor

May 8th, 2014
1:55 pm

” Fire in the air, and the round comes down at virtually the same speed as when it left the barrel ”

Idiots should pause before speaking. And the earth’s escape velocity is 25,000 mph.

lynn l

May 8th, 2014
1:57 pm

Sorry this happened. At that age no matter their health some of our elders still want to feel independent. My grandfather passed at 86 and his drivers license was revoked and he still insisted on driving himself and my grandmother around. As a family we decided to sell all of their vehicles just to keep him from driving.Well one day we received a call from the neighbors that he was trying to get into their vehicle with his keys. So once again as a family we stepped in and provided the necessary care they both needed. My granny also toted her little rusty pistol and she would pull it out to show that if she didn’t get her way she had every intention to use. You hate to hear stories like this but the officer has the right to protect himself. He had no knowledge of her intent

Double Standard

May 8th, 2014
2:07 pm

Waiving a gun around in the presence of law enforcement ? Refusal to put the weapon down ? The cops on the TV shows are the only ones that would not have shot her. Walker Texas Ranger would have put a karate move on her and then drove her to the medical clinic for treatment and stopped by Dairy Queen on the way home to buy her an ice cream cone.