Falls County Precinct 3 Constable Richard Aleman has a new deputy constable in Stephen C. Stem, the former Hearne police officer who shot and killed an armed 93-year-old woman last May.
Stem has been volunteering about 20 hours a month as Aleman’s deputy constable since Oct. 27, almost two months after a Robertson County grand jury cleared him of criminal wrongdoing in the shooting death of Pearlie Golden.
Aleman, who was elected in 2013 and has no full-time deputies on his payroll, said Stem has been a helpful addition to his office. Without paid support staff, Aleman said he works as many as 80 hours a week fulfilling his duties as constable: delivering legal documents, scheduling educational community events and contributing in criminal investigations when needed.
During the Christmas parade and Jingle Run, Stem helped with traffic control and a law enforcement presence, the constable said. He has assisted with other community events, which are a big focus of his office, Aleman added.
Stem had been looking for work in law enforcement since the Hearne City Council voted to fire him on May 10, four days after his second fatal shooting in less than two years.
Authorities said Stem and another officer responded to Golden’s home about 6:30 p.m. on May 6 after receiving a call from her nephew reporting his aunt was holding a gun. When the officers arrived at the 1400 block of Pin Oak Street, they found Golden holding a .38 revolver, which she refused to put down despite repeated orders from both officers, Robertson County District Attorney Coty Siegert said at the time. Stem fired at Golden four times, striking her twice, when she pointed the gun at him. She died in the hospital.
Stem filed a wrongful termination suit against Mayor Ruben Gomez and the city of Hearne in October, arguing he was fired without due process of law since he didn’t received a written complaint about his actions. A federal judge dismissed the case last month but Stem’s attorney John Cullar filed a motion to reconsider earlier this week.
In April 2013, a different Robertson County grand jury cleared Stem in the 2012 shooting death of 28-year-old Tederalle Satchell. In that incident early on Dec. 30, 2012, Stem and another officer, Jonathan Boller, were dispatched to the Columbus Village Apartments for reports of “shots fired,” according to the Texas Rangers investigation. Stem fired six rounds at Satchell based on a belief that the man was carrying a gun.
Aleman, who worked with Stem at the Lott Police Department, said he was aware of the shootings when he hired Stem.
“I’ve been in that situation myself and that’s part of the job,” Aleman said, referring to four officer-involved shootings during his 19-year law enforcement career. “I commend him on a job well done. I watched the tape and when someone points a gun, you gotta do what you gotta do. It didn’t concern me because that’s part of the job.”
Aleman said he was cleared in all four incidents, one of which resulted in death. The shootings occurred while he worked in Bruceville-Eddy and Marlin.
During the hiring process, Aleman called Stem’s previous employers and received good recommendations from Lott police and Hearne supervisors who described him as a hard worker, he said. The Bryan supervisor he spoke to vaguely remembered Stem but did not report any problems. Aleman said he did not have time to request Stem’s employment file from the city of Bryan.
Stem, a Texas A&M graduate who listed a membership in the Corps of Cadets on his resume, began his law enforcement career as a Bryan police officer in 2008. His employment records show that during his nearly three years with the department, Stem was among a group of officers who earned achievement coins for their roles in solving a 2010 home burglary. That same year, however, he was suspended for one day after failing to complete a report about an alleged indecency with a child incident before going on vacation. The case was eventually dismissed for lack of evidence.
He resigned from the department in 2011 after he was placed on a 90-day voluntary agreed suspension following an incident in which he pointed a gun at a bystander and a suspect as an officer stood in his field of fire, according to a departmental memo from Chief Eric Buske.
Three weeks after being suspended, Stem joined the Lott Police Department in Falls County and spent a year there before taking a position in Hearne.
Since the May shooting, records from the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement show Stem has completed 64 hours of additional law enforcement training. The courses include courtroom demeanor and testimony, defensive tactics, aftermath of a critical incident and 40-hour basic instructor course.
Stem and his attorney did not respond to a request for comment.