Incoming Harris County District Attorney Mike Anderson said Thursday that he plans to prosecute a capital murder case himself.
Harlem Howard Lewis, 21, has been charged with capital murder of a police officer and murder.
Investigators said Bellaire police Cpl. Jimmie Norman, 53, was chasing Lewis when they drove into the parking lot of a Maaco body shop at 5611 Bellaire Blvd. at Alder at 8:55 a.m. Monday. Witnesses said Lewis got out of his vehicle and began firing shots.
Selvin Romero said Lewis side-swiped his pickup truck. He said he followed Lewis into the driveway of the body shop.
He said he saw Norman, a 24-year-veteran of the force, approach Lewis' car in an effort to get him to surrender. But within seconds, police said the Lewis pulled a gun and opened fire on Norman.
The owner of the body shop, Terry Taylor, who loved ones said walked out of his shop to help the officer, was fatally shot in the head by Lewis at close range. Police said he died instantly.
Family members said Taylor was a retired army vet, a married father and a new grandfather.
Norman, a married father of two, was taken to Ben Taub Hospital, where he died a short time later. He did not exchange gunfire with the suspect, HPD said.
"The saddest thing is that (Officer Norman) didn't even get an opportunity to pull his weapon and defend himself. That's how fast it all happened," said John Cannon with the Houston Police Department.
Houston police said Lewis fired at responding Bellaire police officers, and those officers returned fire. Lewis was wounded and ran off, but was found behind a nearby business. Investigators said a gun was recovered from the scene.
Lewis was taken to Memorial Hermann Hospital in critical but stable condition. Doctors said he is expected to survive.
"He pretty much at close-bank range murdered a Bellaire police officer and murdered an innocent bystander who emerged from the shop," Cannon said.
The case is death-penalty eligible.
"We'll certainly look at the death penalty, but I think it's irresponsible to say what we're going to do," Anderson said. "I'm not even the district attorney yet."
Anderson, who takes the oath of office on Jan. 1, said he will consider upgrading the murder charge for Taylor's death to capital murder.
Trust Fund for Cpl. Norman's family:
Donations can be made at Prosperity Bank
5123 Bellaire Blvd.
For the "Jimmie Norman Trust Fund"
Norman was the first Bellaire police officer to be killed in the line of duty. He was promoted to sergeant after his death. He qualified for the promotion during a competitive process held in the fall.
Lewis is scheduled to appear in court on Jan. 2, if he's out of the hospital by then.
"I'm not sure of his medical condition, but, quite frankly, I'm more concerned about the trial," Anderson said.
Bellaire police said they were happy that Anderson will take the reigns in court.
"He's always been a supporter of the police department of Bellaire," Assistant Chief Michal Leal said. "We feel honored that he has decided to take on this case himself."
Funeral arrangements made
Sgt. Jimmie Norman's family has made arrangements for the slain officer's funeral.
A visitation will be held from 3 to 7 p.m. Friday at Bellaire Central Baptist Church, 7115 Mapleridge St.
Norman's funeral will be held at Houston's First Baptist Church, 7401 Katy Freeway, at 2 p.m. on Saturday.