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Police Chief talks about officer-involved shooting
PORT ARTHUR- by Haley Bull
The Port Arthur Police Chief said police dash-cam video of an officer-involved shooting is now in the hands of the district attorney's office. The chief said it shows an officer had no choice when he shot and killed 19 year old Eduardo Rodriguez.
Investigators said Rodriguez took a driver's vehicle Thursday afternoon and wrecked it on Peek Avenue off Gulfway Dr. in Port Arthur. Officers said he then flagged down another driver who picked him up, not knowing what had happened. Police stopped Rodriguez and tried to arrest him.
Investigators said he took Officer Kasey Frank's gun, aimed it at her, then at Officer Herschel Whiting, a 24-year department veteran. Whiting shot and killed the suspect.
Tire trails and orange paint mark the grass and the road in the 1500 block of Peek Avenue, part of the investigation one day after the officer-involved shooting.
"They tried to physically restrain, they tried the taser and eventually it led to the use of deadly force but each step was brought on by the suspect," Port Arthur Police Chief Mark Blanton said.
19-year old Eduardo Rodriguez was shot and killed by an officer the chief said was trying to protect his co-workers.
"He was definitely menacing the officers. I mean during the struggle, Officer Frank could've very easily been shot and once he had her weapon either of the officers or both could have been shot," Blanton said.
The car that officers said Rodriguez took from a driver before wrecking it in a ditch sat behind the Port Arthur Police Department Friday.
Police said Rodriguez walked down the road after wrecking the car and flagged down another driver. Officers converged. During the struggle, Rodriguez took away Officer Kasey Frank's gun. Officer Herschel Whiting fired a taser at the teen, but it had no impact. The dash cam video captured everything, though.
"In the video it appears that in the struggle the weapon is being pointed at Officer Frank and when the gun is rest from her, she does the wise thing and gets out of the way, and as the suspect wheels with the weapon towards Officer Whiting, he fires on the suspect," Blanton said.
Blanton said the gun was still in the teen's hand. Whiting kicks it away. The teen dies at the scene.
Officers Frank and Whiting are okay. Friday, they're home on paid administrative leave, which is standard procedure during such an investigation. The chief called them Friday morning.
"Both seem to be doing as well as can be expected going through something as traumatic as this," Blanton said.
The officers are part of a family beyond their own.
"Most of the officers that are involved in something such as this want to come back to work relatively quickly. Their friends are here, their coworkers, their support group is here," Blanton said.
The chief said the use of deadly force was a last resort when a taser didn't work.
"It looks to me that the dart did not, at least one of them, did not make contact and if you don't have both it's not gonna work," he said.
That takes away one more option before an officer has to make the ultimate decision.
"Every officer I know hopes they never have to discharge their weapon in the line of duty," Blanton said.
It's a decision the chief said an officer made to protect himself, his co-workers and the public.
The district attorney will take the case to a grand jury, which is standard when there is use of force.