HOUSTON - A Conroe police officer who is alleged to have shot and killed a 19-year-old college student after a brief pursuit last July faces a lawsuit from the man's mother.
In court papers filed Nov. 21 in Houston federal court, Jacqueline Rios claims that Sgt. Jason Blackwelder was off-duty when he helped Conroe Wal-Mart employees pursue Russell Rios, who was accused of shoplifting.
According to the elder Rios, Blackwelder "chased Russell down with his truck until Russell fled into a wooded area separating Wal-Mart and Lowe's."
"At that point, Sergeant Blackwelder left his vehicle and followed Russell into the wooded area," the original petition says.
Blackwelder "emerged from the wooded area" after he allegedly fired on Russell Rios, according to the lawsuit.
Conroe police issued a press release stating Blackwelder and Russell Rios were reportedly engaged in a physical struggle in which Russell Rios choked the officer.
Jacqueline Rios denies that allegation in her lawsuit.
The plaintiff says Conroe police and the Montgomery County District Attorney's Office "were still investigating" the event, insisting the defendant "was not justified in using deadly force to prevent Russell's escape" as her son was "unarmed and posed no significant threat of death or serious physical injury."
She asserts Blackwelder apparently "engaged in a calculated effort to cover up his actions by lying about the event that had transpired that evening."
In late September, Blackwelder was placed on administrative leave and a Montgomery County Grand Jury indicted him for manslaughter, tampering with evidence and making a false report to police.
A jury trial is requested.
Attorney David E. Bernsen of The Bernsen Law Firm in Beaumont is representing the complainant.
Case No. 4:13-CV-3457