LOCKHART — A Caldwell County grand jury on Thursday declined to indict five San Marcos police officers for shooting and killing a young man who kidnapped his former girlfriend in November and led authorities on a wild chase across two counties.
The grand jury’s decisions were announced by the Combined Law Enforcement Associations of Texas whose attorneys represented the officers. The statement issued by CLEAT did not name the officers involved in the shooting and San Marcos Police Chief Howard E. Williams has previously declined to do so.
“The grand jury clearly recognized that the action taken by these officers saved the life of the young woman who was kidnapped and removed a grave threat to everyone who was in the area at the time,” CLEAT executive director Charley Wilkison said.
Early the morning after Thanksgiving, 22-year-old Jerry Paul Stovall III, who lived near Canyon Lake in western Comal County, went to the Beall’s department store in Bulverde where his 19-year-old ex-girlfriend was preparing for the rush of Black Friday shoppers. When a police officer showed up in response to a 911 call, Stovall fired a handgun at the officer and then pushed his hostage into the police cruiser as the officer took cover, the Bulverde police chief said in December.
For about 90 minutes, Stovall led officers from five agencies on a pursuit that reached speeds of 100 mph, Williams and Hays County Sheriff Gary Cutler told the San Marcos Mercury.
After the chase blew through Comal and into Hays County, passing through San Marcos and into Kyle, sheriff’s deputies used spike strips to puncture the stolen police cruiser’s tires on northbound Interstate 35. Stovall headed east on FM 2001, driving on shredded rubber and then metal rims before the car eventually gave out across Texas 21 from the Sac-n-Pac convenience store in Niederwald, just feet inside the Caldwell County line.
The Hays County-San Marcos Crisis Negotiation Team tried for about a half-hour to convince Stovall to surrender, who was barricade inside the vehicle with his hostage. When he pointed a gun at the woman and said he was going to kill her, two San Marcos officers detailed to Hays County SWAT shot him twice in the head, Cutler told the Mercury at the time in an account corroborated by Williams.
“Officers attempted to negotiate, but the suspect was threatening to kill the victim. When he pointed his weapon at officers, they opened fire and ended the situation. with no harming coming to innocent civilians or law enforcement officers,” said the statement issued by CLEAT, an influential statewide organization that provides lobbying and legal representation, among other services, to law enforcement officers in Texas.
COVER: PHOTO by LARRY MILLER SAN MARCOS MERCURY GRAPHIC by BRAD ROLLINS