Conroe police officer found guilty of manslaughter

By John Brannen - Web Editor, Mary Benton

CONROE, Texas - A Conroe police sergeant accused of shooting a teenage shoplifting suspect has been found guilty of manslaughter.

Jason Blackwelder faced numerous charges in connection with the July 2013 death of 19-year-old Russell Rios. Rios was allegedly stealing cellphone cases from the store.

Police say Blackwelder chased Rios, who was suspected of stealing at a Walmart store, and the two scuffled in a wooded area.

Blackwelder, who was off-duty, originally told officers he shot the teen while Rios was choking him.

Montogmery County investigators later said he lied about what happened. Later tests showed Rios died from a gunshot wound to the back of the head and had other injuries.

The punishment phase is set to begin Wednesday. Blackwelder could face up to 20 years in prison.

Since the shooting, the six-year veteran has been on administrative leave.

Copyright 2014 by All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.