MONTGOMERY COUNTY, Texas – A Conroe police officer who shot and killed a teen accused of shoplifting iPhone cases from a Walmart in 2013 has been sentenced to five years of probation.
Jason Blackwelder was found guilty of manslaughter on Tuesday.
He was off duty when Russell Rios, 19, allegedly stole merchandise and ran from security guards at a Walmart store on July 31, 2013. Prosecutors said Blackwelder grabbed his gun out his car and joined the chase.
Rios ran into a wooded field near the store. Prosecutors said a fight apparently erupted in the woods, but the officer’s account of the incident was flawed.
Blackwelder claimed the teenager grabbed him from behind in a chokehold and nearly rendered him unconscious, so he fired his pistol and killed Rios, but the district attorney said Rios was shot in the back of the head.
The officer was indicted for manslaughter and two lesser charges that he lied to investigators probing the incident.
"The fact that one of their own was held to the same standards as everybody else and was convicted in the same courtrooms that we convict habituals, child offenders, sexual molesters, this officer was treated no better than any other common criminal, and he got what he deserved, which was a conviction of guilty," said Montgomery County District Attorney Brett Ligon.