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HOUSTON -A car crash led to a bizarre fight and deadly shooting involving an officer Christmas night, police said.

It happened in the 9300 block of Tidwell outside the Lakecrest Village Apartment complex in northeast Houston. The circumstances surrounding the shooting depend on whom you ask.

Police claim the suspect was resisting arrest and the officer feared for his life. Some witnesses claimed he overreacted.

Everybody was like, He didn t have to shoot him, said Tasha Gray, a witness.

Just before 11 p.m. an officer leaving the complex on another call noticed a Camaro speeding east on Tidwell near Mesa Road. The Camaro then hit another car and crashed into a ditch. The impact woke people in apartments across the street.

They saw an officer talking with the Camaro s driver. Police said the man was walking away and refused to stop until the officer pulled his gun. As the two men walked toward a patrol car, something went wrong.

At one point, the officer found himself on his back on the ground with the suspect directly over him, said Kese Smith, an HPD spokesman. That suspect then reached for the officer and the officer, fearing for his safety, fired.

Some witnessesbelieve the officer had other options.

The driver's relatives have identified him as Blake Pate, 23.

He was one of the hardest working guys I'd ever known, said Eric Jones, his nephew. Then, all of a sudden, this morning, we get the call that he's gone and I don't -- I really don't know how to handle it.

Pate's relatives said he'd moved to Pearland fromArkansas about a year ago and was helping run the family's furniture repair business. They said he'd been out onChristmas night attempting to reconcile with his brother, whose home he never reached.

I'm sure he wasn't in his right state of mind, but I definitely don't think he would try to go against the cop, said Miles Jones, another nephew.

Now,it's up to the district attorney and thepolice department'sinternal affairs divisionto decide whether the officer acted appropriately.

There seems to be a lot of pieces missing and I would really like to know exactly what happened out there, Eric Jones said. Because for them to say my uncle tried to fight a cop who had his weapon drawn --he wasn't a moron.

Policesaidthe officer involvedhad morethan 13 years of experience.He'llbe on administrative leave for three days pending aninternal investigation.
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