Man injured in shootout with HPD during car chase in West Houston

Man injured in shootout with HPD during car chase in West Houston

A police car chase through West Houston ended with Houston Police officers opening fire on a fleeing driver Sunday, leaving the man in serious condition.

The man’s car hit at least two other cars before plowing into a concrete meridian on Westheimer near George Bush Park around 3:45 p.m after trying to escape pursuing police cruisers for about 15 minutes, Police Chief Troy Finner told reporters Sunday night.

The officers shot the man as he exited his car following the crash, Finner said.

The man, identified only as a man in his 40s, was taken to a local hospital, where he underwent surgery for what Finner said were “serious injuries.”

None of the five police officers involved in the chase and the shooting were injured, the police chief said.

Police initially reported that the man fired at the officers, but Finner later told reporters that has not been confirmed.

“Originally we said the suspect fired on the officers returned fire, but, at this moment, we cannot confirm that from this scene,” said Finner, later noting, “We don’t even know if he had a gun.”

It was unclear why officers initiated the car chase or what the suspect was wanted for. As of Sunday night, the suspect had not been charged with a crime. The man has a “criminal history of robbery,” Finner said.

Few details were available. Finner said investigators have not determined whether a robbery was in progress when the eyewitness called police to the scene.

“A citizen was following what he believed was a robbery suspect,” Finner said. “He called in to us and we tried to get him stopped. And then the suspect led us on a chase.”

Officers responding found the suspect driving near the intersection of Richmond and Eldridge Parkway South. The suspect drove several blocks before stopping to let out a female passenger at the corner of Westheimer and Highway 6, Finner said.

After letting out the passenger, the suspect continued east down Westheimer, striking at least two cars before hitting the meridian and coming to a halt, Finner said. That’s when the five pursuing officers — led by a sergeant Finner described as a 13-year veteran of the department — confronted the man.

“Officers approached as the suspect got out of the car,” the police chief said. “Officers discharged on the suspect.”

The five officers have been placed on administrative leave.

An HPD special investigations unit within the homicide division is conducting a criminal investigation into the shooting, in accordance with the department’s policies for officer involved shootings and allegations of misconduct. The Harris County District Attorney civil rights division is involved.

Investigators are looking for surveillance footage from nearby businesses to shed light on the circumstances of the shooting, Finner said. They are also reviewing footage from the body cameras worn by the five officers.

It was not clear Sunday whether the suspect would survive his injuries.

nora.mishanec@chron.com