|Grand jury clears HCSO deputy in November shooting death|
|Faith Huffman | News-Telegram News Editor|
Feb. 2, 2007 - All officers involved in the incident which lead to the shooting death of Terri Hill Minty in November were cleared by a Hopkins County grand jury of any wrongdoing, including Hopkins County Sheriff's Deputy Paul Fenimore, who fired the fatal shot.
The Hopkins County grand jury during its recent session, decided no further action was needed following Texas Ranger Phillip Kemp's presentation of his extensive investigation, according to District Attorney Martin Braddy.
"It's hard to say we're happy, taking into consideration the family," Hopkins County Sheriff Butch Adams said Friday morning. "As far as the investigation, we feel glad the way that turned out. We treat every weapon as loaded. His actions, in our opinion, were to protect not only the police but also to protect any citizens that might be there as well, including the homeowner. Deputy Paul Fenimore is a good officer."
Fenimore and three other officers had responded to a report of a burglary on County Road 2307 on Nov. 28. Minty walked out of the house holding a shotgun, and was shot once after pointing the weapon at the officers at least two times, Chief Sheriff’s Investigator Andy Chester said following the shooting. Chester was at the scene with Lt. Dan Mitchell and deputies Dennis Findley and Fenimore when the incident occurred.
Braddy said the Ranger, rather than the DA's office, prepared the findings as to what occurred on Nov. 28. Kemp was the lead investigator).
The information presented included evidence that Minty had left a telephone message for the homeowner indicating she planned to force officers to shoot her. The sheriff's officers responded to the call at the location and reacted according to her actions at the scene, which included pointing the weapon at officers in what was described as a threatening manner.
"We always present the information to the grand jury," Braddy said. "They gave it appropriate consideration. They asked questions, and I asked questions, and Philip answered them as best he could. It was clear that there was no wrongdoing. We didn't believe there was a crime involved."
Adams said Fenimore, whose name was not released until a week after the shooting, was taken off patrol for a number of days after the incident.
"The Ranger waited to release his name until after he saw a counselor," Adams said. "The [Texas Department of Public Safety] counselors saw him and checked him. He then returned to patrol."
Braddy said his one hope following the incident is that anyone who might possibly be considering suicide or prompting a situation which would require an officer to use deadly force will think of all of the people it affect. In addition to the person forcing the action, such instances impact the person's family, the officers involved, and anyone who witnesses what occurs or the immediate results, as well as the community.
"If someone wants to have the police kill them, I hope they'll remember that officers are just real people with lives and families, too," Braddy said. "They get in their line of work not to kill people, but to protect other folks, their families, each other and people's property, and uphold the law. Most officers go their entire career and never have to kill anyone. I've seen police officers, good officers, who have had to kill. It ended their career. They couldn't do it anymore. They couldn't live with it."