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Police: Shot fired, Taser used prior to deadly encounter with Nederland officer

NEDERLAND — The 29-year-old man who was shot and killed by a Nederland Police officer Tuesday night had allegedly failed to comply with the officer’s commands and was armed with a gun.

The identity of the deceased, who is from Port Neches, has not been released by the Nederland Police Department.

Chief Gary Porter said he was not releasing the name out of respect for the family on Wednesday but expects to release the name Thursday.

The officer, identified as Tanner Thompson, 26, has been on the police force for four years. He has been placed on administrative leave pending the investigation by the Texas Rangers, which is part of the Texas Department of Public Safety and the Jefferson County District Attorney’s Office.

Nederland Mayor Don Albanese said he spoke with the police chief on the matter, adding it is unfortunate that incidents like this occur but when it does happen there are professional people such as the police department. If everything is handled by the book, it goes well, Albanese added.

The shooting came after a domestic disturbance call involving a male who possibly had a firearm in Port Neches at 10:15 p.m. Tuesday.

When officers arrived at the home in the 2000 block of Sixth Street, the male had already left.

Porter said he later learned the male had fired a shot at the residence in Port Neches during the disturbance.

Police from both departments began looking for the man, described by police as a black male wearing a black shirt and khakis and armed with a 9-mm gun.

The Sixth Street residence where the disturbance was reported in Port Neches is two blocks outside of Nederland city limits.

Porter said the male walked across Texas Avenue into Nederland, and Nederland Officer Tanner Thompson located him in the 700 block of Carriage Lane.

From there the male allegedly ran back to Texas Avenue. A short foot chase was pursued to the 700 block of Texas Avenue.

“At this time, the Nederland P.D. officer fired shots at the suspect,” Porter said in a press release, adding the male died at the scene.

Porter said the chase and shooting was a one-on-one encounter, though officers from Nederland and Port Neches were all over the area searching for the male because of the report that he was armed.

A 9-mm handgun was found at the scene next to the male, Porter said, adding the shooting took place in the street.

The officer did deploy a Taser at the male, though it was either ineffective or he missed, Porter said.

As to when deadly force is justified, Porter said: “A reasonable officer in a similar situation would have to believe he was in imminent danger of serious body injury or death.”

But reasonable doesn’t always mean necessary, he added.

This marks the first officer-involved shooting fatality in Nederland Police Department history, as far as Porter knows.

Details of the interaction leading up to the shooting are not known at this time, he said.

Body cam footage has been turned over to the Texas Rangers.

Authorities have not said if the victim fired at police.

Porter is ready to deal with facts, not opinion.

“It would be unethical to interject my opinion while the Texas Rangers and the D.A.’s office are investigating this,” he said.

Port Neches Police Chief Paul Lemoine said police were looking for the man following a disturbance because he was possibly armed.

In addition, police had previously gone to calls at the Sixth Street home in the past, but Lemoine did not know how many calls or what they were in reference to.

Jefferson County Precinct 7 Justice of the Peace Brad Burnett was called to the scene and declared the male deceased. An autopsy will be conducted Wednesday or Thursday.

The goal of an autopsy is to determine the cause of death and has a hand in ruling on the manner of death.

Burnett confirmed the male died of a gunshot wound but could not say how many times he was shot due to the male wearing dark clothing, the way the body was positioned and the darkness of night when Burnett arrived.

Burnett could also not confirm where the victim was shot.

Officer Thompson will remain on administrative leave pending the completion of the investigation, Porter said.