Houston Police Department
Investigation into Incident at 9810 Gulf Freeway
December 29, 2011 - Houston police are investigating an incident in which an off-duty Houston Police officer discharged his duty wepaon and wounded an armed male suspect at 9801 Gulf Freeway about 3 a.m. today.
The suspect, Clemente Vela (H/m, DOB: 11-23-79), suffered multiple gunshot wounds and was transported to Ben Taub General Hospital in an unknown condition.
A photo of suspect Vela, who faces a charge of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, is not available for release at this time.
Officer J. C. Lopez, who discharged his duty weapon, was not injured in this incident. Officer Lopez was sworn in as an officer in January 2006 and is assigned to the South Central Patrol Division.
HPD Homicide Division Sergeant J. Rohling and Senior Police Officer J. Robles reported:
Officer Lopez, off-duty and in plain clothes, was at the Denny's restaurant at the above location with family and friends, including his brother, a Marine recently returned from military service in Afghanistan. At some point, Vela arrived at the restaurant with a co-worker and his cousin, also a Marine recently returned from Afghanistan, after a night of drinking at a local strip club.
Once inside the restaurant, a disturbance between Officer Lopez's group and Vela's group ensued. Officer Lopez, who was unarmed, feared the disturbance would escalate and went outside to to call 9-1-1 from his cell phone inside his vehicle. As he called 9-1-1, Officer Lopez saw Vela, armed with a knife, approach his family and friends. Officer Lopez retrieved his duty weapon and fired at least two shots in the air in an attempt to stop Vela's aggressive actions. Vela, with the knife in his hand, then turned toward Officer Lopez and confronted him in an aggressive manner. Fearing for his safety and that of his family members, Officer Lopez discharged his duty weapon several times, wounding Vela. He was then taken into custody and tranpsorted to the hospital. Vela'scousin was questioned and released at the scene while the co-worker was taken into custody on an unrelated warrant.
As is customary in cases in which a HPD officer discharges a weapon causing any type of injury, the incident is being investigated by the HPD Homicide and Internal Affairs Divisions as well as the Harris County District Attorney's Office.
For additional information, please contact the HPD Public Affairs Division at 713-308-3200.