By Sarah Naron
PALESTINE – One individual is receiving care for life-threatening injuries in a Tyler hospital after he was shot after allegedly pulling a gun on a Palestine Police Department officer following a slow-speed chase Friday, Feb. 23.
“We’ve increased our efforts recently to combat drugs in our city,” explained Palestine Police Chief Andy Harvey. “We’ve partnered with other agencies like DPS and some federal agencies to do that smarter. And some of that led up to what happened today.”
According to Chief Harvey, the department was informed by what he described as a “credible witness” of a male suspect who “was selling and had a lot of drugs and possibly some guns as well” out of a room in the Best Western hotel located at 1600 Palestine Ave.
“One of our officers went there and saw this individual – along with a female – get into a car that matched the information that was given to him,” Chief Harvey said.
The officer began following the vehicle as it began leaving the parking lot. Other officers arrived and attempted to stop the suspects.
“They didn’t stop,” Chief Harvey continued. “A low-speed pursuit ensued. They weren’t breaking the speed limit or anything, but they weren’t stopping.”
The chase continued for a short distance outside of the Palestine city limits before the vehicle pulled into the driveway of a residence located on ACR 359.
“When they did that, officers went up to the car and started giving them verbal commands to show their hands,” Chief Harvey explained. “At some point, somehow, the door opened. The passenger – the male – wouldn’t show his hands.”
Officers gave the suspect more verbal commands as he fidgeted near the bottom of his seat.
“When he finally did (show his hands), he produced a gun,” Chief Harvey said. “That’s when one of the officers shot and struck him.”
Chief Harvey reported that the injuries sustained by the suspect – a white man estimated to be around 35 years old – were life-threatening. He is now receiving treatment in a Tyler hospital.
The female driver was uninjured. According to Chief Harvey, the extent of her involvement in drug-related activity is currently under investigation.
Currently, the Palestine PD is keeping the identities of both the suspect and the officer confidential.
“The reason we’re not releasing it right now is because we’re not even sure that his family knows that he was involved in this,” Chief Harvey explained of the decision to not name the suspect.
The suspect, Chief Harvey said, was no stranger to the Palestine PD.
“What I’ve found here in this community is that our officers know a lot of people,” he said. “They’ve encountered a lot of people along the way, and this is one individual that they’ve encountered before. He’s not new; he’s not someone who’s just come to our community. They know who he is.”
Chief Harvey explained that the suspect’s criminal record includes a number of felony convictions. As a result of Friday’s incident, he may face charges of attempted capital murder.
The officer involved, Chief Harvey said, is a six-year veteran and a detective with the Palestine PD.
As Chief Harvey pointed out, shootings such as that which occurred Friday take a heavy toll on many people.
“One of the things that happens when there’s officer-involved shootings that I’m not sure people realize is that the officer goes through a lot as well,” Chief Harvey said. “Whenever there’s things like this happening, a lot of people hurt. There’s the family of the individual that’s shot – they’re hurt. The officer hurts; the officer’s family has to deal with this. The department has to deal with all this.
“It’s not something that’s good for anyone,” he continued. “However, it’s part of policing.”
Chief Harvey said the officer is currently on administrative leave.
A criminal investigation by the Texas Rangers and internal investigation by the Palestine PD are underway.
Sarah Naron may be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.