A traffic stop turned tragic last evening when veteran Houston police officer Rodney Johnson was shot and killed in the front seat of his patrol car near Hobby Airport, reports the Houston Chronicle. After the shooting, a handcuffed man remained in the back seat of the squad car along with a pistol thought to have been used in the shooting. Johnson, 40, was the first Houston officer killed in more than two years.
Circumstances of the killing were not clear, but a veteran officer told the Chronicle that if a “person is just a witness or if (the stop) is just a traffic violation, you might just put them in the back of your (patrol) car to do the paperwork. If the suspect is high risk or wanted on a felony, then you need to do more than a pat-down. But even then, you can still miss a weapon. It’s part of the job. And this isn’t the first time an officer has been killed with a suspect in the back seat.” The unidentified officer said the Houston department’s staffing shortage leaves approximately 80 percent of patrol units with a single officer. There is no protocol mandating that single-patrol officers call for backup while making arrests. “If we called for backup every time we made an arrest, nothing would get done,” the officer said.