Our Texas personal injury lawyers at Farah Law are representing the family of 17-year-old Jonathen Santellana, who was killed after being shot several times by an off-duty Navasota police officer. The shooting occurred at the Villages of Copperfield apartments in Houston on November 13th.
The off-duty officer, who lives in the apartment complex, had just returned home from work when he claims he saw suspicious activity in a vehicle, possibly involving drugs. Jonathen and a female passenger where sitting in his car when the officer approached the vehicle to investigate. The car was quickly put into reverse and pinned the officer, who sustained only minor injuries. The officer then shot at the vehicle numerous times, which caused Jonathen to lose control of his vehicle and crash into a car and a truck that someone was sitting in.
The officer claims that he identified himself when he walked up to the vehicle and tried to talk to Jonathen and the female passenger. The man told detectives that the victim then threw the car into reverse to pin him, and he used his weapon because he believed that his life was in danger. The officer, who has been placed on administrative leave, says that he was only meant to hit the car's tires.
The female passenger has also been interviewed by law enforcement, and she gives a very different account of the incident. The young woman says that they were sitting in the car when a man ran up to the vehicle waving a gun. The man never identified himself, and she and Jonathen thought the man was trying to rob them.
As they were driving away the officer fired his weapon at the teens, and neighbors reported hearing multiple shots. The woman said that the officer was not aiming for the car's tires, but rather at the windows and the young passengers inside. Jonathen was killed by a single gunshot wound to the chest.
The off duty officer lived in the complex where he shot Jonathen and residents say that he has been involved in controversy before. One tenant said that the man is known for bullying people around the complex. Friends described Jonathen as a "good kid", and his loved ones are still looking for answers and trying to determine what really happened.
Law enforcement expected investigations into the incident to last for several months. We will keep you informed about updates to this case as they become available.