One dead in officer-related shooting

photo by Sharon Brooks

A 41-year-old Vidor man was killed in an officer-related shooting late Friday afternoon, July 11, after his family called Vidor police for assistance

According to the deceased man’s mother, Anna Greer, her son Joe Greer was upset about ending a relationship and angrily slammed the door of the home they shared on Cady Street in Vidor, breaking the door and shattering the door glass.

“I told him, ‘Joe, you need help,’” she said in an interview, adding that she was concerned about “his mental and emotional health” and had encouraged him in the past to seek treatment, but to no avail. She said he was a kind man who would not hurt anyone, but she was told he was wielding a knife when police approached him. She said she still does not understand why police shot him, somewhere between 6 to 7 times according to neighbors on the scene. She feels they should have been able to disarm her son, who had what she and her husband James Greer Sr. described as a small “child’s” knife.

“They didn’t have to shoot him,” Mrs. Greer lamented a short time after the shooting.

In a statement at about 8:40 p.m. on the day of the shooting, VPD Chief Dave Shows said officers were dispatched to a disturbance in the 100 block of Cady Street in Vidor at 4:28 p.m. At 4:45 p.m., officers made contact with a white male, Greer, in the 1700 block of East Railroad at Rearick Street. At 4:47 p.m., officers called Acadian Ambulance and reported shots had been fired.

The two officers involved in the shooting have been placed on administrative leave until the investigation is complete per police procedure. The Texas Rangers were called out to investigate, as is required in officer-related shootings, and Ranger Bobby Smith is heading up the investigation.

According to Chief Shows, VPD Detective Chris Pearson helped secure the scene until the Texas Rangers and other assisting law enforcement agencies arrived to take over the investigation. Orange County District Attorney Investigator Kevin Breshears, Orange County Sheriff’s Office deputies and other entities were on scene investigating, said the chief.

“All Vidor Police Department personnel were removed from the scene once enough officers arrived (from other agencies),” Shows said.

Paula Zambardino, Greer’s aunt, said that Mrs. Greer called her and told her that her nephew was dead. She was at the scene trying to find out what happened from police.

“That’s not right that they shot him like that,” Zambardino said. “No matter what.”

Mrs. Greer said neither the police nor the Texas Ranger had informed her about anything that had happened. She said she heard the news of her son’s death from a neighbor down the street. She said had she known her son would be killed, she never would have phoned the police.

“He wasn’t going to hurt anyone,” she said tearfully. “He was a good boy. They shouldn’t have shot him.”

She said her mother had suffered from bipolar disorder prior to her death and feels her son was struggling with similar issues.

Tueller principle

When defending against knife attacks, self-defense instructors often refer to what is known as the “21-foot rule” or the Tueller principle. Former Sgt. Dennis Tueller of the Salt Lake City Police Department published an article called “How close is too close” in SWAT magazine in 1983 describing the Tueller Drill, a self-defense training exercise based on Tueller’s estimation that a suspect armed with a knife could only be properly defended against by an officer with a holstered weapon at a distance as close as 21 feet. He asserts in the article that if a person wielding a knife gets any closer than 21 feet, the officer would likely be stabbed, taking into account the time it takes to unholster the weapon and the suspect’s forward momentum. Numerous self-defense instructors still adhere to Tueller’s principle.

It is unknown at this time whether the officers’ guns were holstered just prior to the shooting

Mrs. Greer’s two other children died previously, and she said her son, Joe, was widowed with a 15-year-old son before he died himself.

“I lost all three of my sons now,” said Greer.

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