Depending on interpretation, Houston Police Officer Jose Coronado either upheld his duty or violated department policy when he intervened in an altercation last month – killing one man and injuring another – after leaving a bar where he’d been drinking, reports the city’s Chronicle. Local police policy requires officers to respond to emergencies that come to their attention, but also restricts exercising police authority while “under the influence,” whether on or off duty. So, what was Coronado supposed to do?
“No one would expect an officer to stand idly by while an attempted child kidnapping is in progress because the officer had a glass of wine an hour before,” said Larry Hoover, director of the Police Research Center at Sam Houston State University. “At the same time, HPD does not want officers to react off duty to a trivial situation if the officer has been drinking, even if not intoxicated.” The incident happened early Feb. 19 as Coronado was leaving a bar with his wife. He rushed to the scene of altercation, identified himself as a police officer and tried to break up the fight. At some point, he discharged his weapon multiple times. Omar Ventura was shot and killed. His brother, Rolando Ventura, was shot in the arm. Coronado told investigators that Omar Ventura said he had a gun and reached for his waistband, but it was unclear whether the man was carrying a weapon.