A police officer has been indicted for manslaughter in the case of Russell Rios, a teenager that was recently shot and killed outside of a Wal Mart in Conroe, Texas. The officer, Jason Blackwelder, allegedly followed Rios, 19, from a local Wal Mart after the teenager was accused of stealing two iPhone cases from the store.
The two then entered a nearby wooded area, where Blackwelder claims Rios began choking him. In response, Blackwelder fired shots that fatally wounded Rios.
The case against Blackwelder also accuses the officer of “tampering with a government document” and making a “false report to a police officer,” according to KHOU.com. Blackwelder is accused of falsely entering the events that occurred the night of the shooting into government record.
The District Attorney of Montgomery County, the area in which Conroe is located, refused to publicly express support for either Blackwelder or Rios. Instead, he treaded carefully, explaining that it would be up to the jury to decide Blackwelder’s guilt or innocence. D.A. Brett Legan relayed these sentiments in the following statement:
“In the tragic circumstance of an officer involved shooting, the highest duty of our office and law enforcement is to uncover the truth. Our office, the Conroe Police Department, and the Sheriff’s Office presented a complete and thorough investigation to the grand jury as we do in all of these cases. It is our hope that these indictments will serve to assure our community that all of our local agencies are committed to always seeking justice no matter where that leads. Because the case is pending we cannot comment regarding the specific facts of this matter, but will look to the presentment of the facts to a Montgomery County jury.”
Blackwelder faces up to 20 years in prison and $10,000 in fines.