Fallen Heroes: Officer Jerry Stowe

September 20, 2000

Jerry Keith Stowe was born on February 1, 1953, in Fort Worth, Texas. His family moved to Houston and Jerry graduated from Dobie High School in Pasadena in 1971. He was a member of the Sam B. Crawford Masonic Lodge No. 1418 in New Caney and the past chairman of the East Montgomery County Fair and Rodeo. Stowe worked in the construction industry in the electrical design field for a number of years and found his calling with the Houston Police Department shortly after his twin brother, Jimmy, joined the department.

Jerry Stowe joined HPD in Police Cadet Class No. 125 on November 26, 1984, graduating on March 30, 1985. He was elected by his classmates as class president. He wore Badge No. 4501. His first assignment was to the Radio Patrol Central Division on April 1, 1985 and his probationary training was completed on December 7, 1985. A normal rotation to the Jail Division began on January 4, 1986 and was completed when he returned to Central Patrol on July 23, 1986.

On the night of Tuesday, August 26, 1986, Officers T. S. Galli and J. K. Stowe were riding Unit 1A21 when they responded to a female disturbance call at 1605 Robin, just west of downtown. The call came shortly after midnight, August 27. The officers met the complainant, who advised them that she had been struck in the head by Litha Wade, also known as the “Whopper.” Other units arrived and all officers went to 1506 W. Webster, where the suspect resided. Officers Galli and Stowe were accompanied to this location by Officers M. A. Calix and D. B. Casserly. They observed this address to be a typical shotgun house. There were no porch lights or working street lights in this declining area, which seemed to have immense real estate value.

The officers met a large gathering of area residents on or around the front porch. They used their flashlights and a previous description of the suspect to positively identify her. As the officers approached, they observed Litha Wade not only to be extremely intoxicated but also to be holding a beer bottle and a twelve-inch butcher knife in her hands. They talked Wade off of the porch and advised her that she was under arrest for aggravated assault. They then began to lead her to their patrol car. A mob scene erupted when she began resisting arrest.

As Officers Calix and Casserly attempted to keep the crowd away from the suspect, a group of suspects, in particular Litha Wade’s brother, Filo Wade, attacked them. The group also attacked Galli and Stowe while they were in the act of placing Litha Wade in their patrol car. The attackers included another family Wade member, a sister, Dolly.

After Officer Stowe and Galli had arrested Litha, violence a few feet away resulted in the stabbing of Officer Casserly. The suspect involved used a broken beer bottle. The group attacked Stowe and Galli from behind as they responded to the attack on Casserly. Someone struck Officer Stowe repeatedly from behind, using a 2X4 board with steel reinforcement rods. During this melee, yet another sister, Jamesetta Wade, entered the fight and assaulted officers while brandishing another twelve-inch butcher knife.

An Assist the Officer call brought enough officers to the scene to get the volatile situation under control. However, the damage was already done. A number of the officers involved were injured. An ambulance took the wounded Officer Casserly to Twelve Oaks Hospital. After the assist was put out, a supervisor, Sergeant C. D. Williams, arrived, resulting in the arrest of the suspect inside a house. Officers remained in serious bodily danger for another twenty minutes while the arrest took place.

Once order was restored, the officers present determined the extent of injuries and which suspects were the actual attackers. Officer Casserly was stabbed in his left arm when he raised it in self defense after he was alerted to the fact that Dolly Wade was about to stab him from behind with a beer bottle. Casserly, who was the most seriously injured, was bleeding profusely at the scene and was later treated at Twelve Oaks. All of the officers, including Officer Stowe, complained of minor injuries but declined treatment. Fortunately, those injuries were documented in the original report.

The initial officers at the scene were the only witnesses to the attacks. They began to identify as best they could who did what. Due to the poor lighting and the swiftness of the assaults, the officers could not positively identify their actual attackers.

The state filed attempted capital murder of a peace officer again Jamesetta Wade and Dolly Wade. They filed the original assault charge against Litha Wade, as well as a new charge of hindering apprehension, the same charge now faced by Alma Wade, the matriarch of this model family. Filo Wade initially eluded arrest during all of the confusion but was arrested the following day on charges of assault and hindering apprehension.

In reviewing the report filed on this incident, Officer Stowe stated that he had been kicked and beaten about his abdomen and the rest of his body a number of times during the melee. Being the young and strong officer that he was at only thirty-three years of age, he shrugged off the injuries as part of the job. However, as time passed, his pain intensified and became unbearable. In November 1986, he sought medical attention. Doctors determined that he had suffered a damaged spleen and removed this organ. Then medical complications multiplied as time passed, causing the development of a pulmonary embolism on a lung.

As a result of his injuries, Officer Jerry Stowe was assigned to desk duty at his home station of Central Patrol. He continued to perform those duties admirably until January 1990. His physical condition deteriorated until January 25, 1990, when the Houston Police Officers Pension System granted him a catastrophic disability pension. His health continued on a decidedly downward trend until September 20, 2000, when he succumbed to the injuries he received while on duty as a Houston police officer.  He was forty-seven years old.

Officer Stowe was survived by his wife Gail and one son, Cody, his parents, Don and Geri Stowe, sisters Patti Isenberg and Vicki Stowe, and his twin brother, HPD Officer Jimmy Stowe. Also mourning his death were his daughter-in-law, Mrs. Christina Stowe, and his father and mother-in-law, C. J. and Boots Moats.

Visitation began on Sunday, September 24, 2000, at 1 p.m. at the Brookside Funeral Home, 13401 Eastex Freeway. Funeral services were held at 3 p.m. Monday, September 25 at the Brookside Chapel with Brother Richard Huth and HPD Chaplain Edwin Davis officiating.  Interment and Masonic graveside services followed there at Brookside Memorial Park.

For Officer Stowe to have received the medical pension, it was necessary that a number of competent medical personnel diagnose the origin of his injuries. While this was a pending legal matter, it was never a question in the minds of his family and fellow officers. Officer Jerry Stowe died a slow and painful death. The autopsy report detailed the cause of death to be multiple organ system failure secondary to blunt force trauma. Manner of death: HOMICIDE.

A travesty of justice occurred in the system as it related to this offense. Charges were filed and the system, as it existed, prosecuted those that were known to have culpability in this offense. What was not known was the seriousness of the injuries, most specifically to Officer Stowe. Law enforcement officers do not make laws; they only enforce those that society provides for them.

Here is how the justice system treated the defendants:

 

  • Jamesetta Wade (African-American Female, 20), charged with assault on a police officer, sentenced to ninety days in jail.
  • Dolly B. Wade (African-American Female, 27), charged with attempted capital murder of a peace officer, sentenced to two years.
  • Litha Wade (African-American Female, 41), the mother of the Wade family, assault charge dismissed.
  • Alma Wade (African-American, 64), believed to be the mother of this fine group of citizens, misdemeanor assault, sentenced to three days in the county jail.
  • James Lester Wade (African-American, age unknown) assault charge, sentenced to four days in the county jail.

 

In the criminal justice system there is an animal referred to as Double Jeopardy.  Basically, this means that an individual cannot be prosecuted twice for the same offense. In this case, it means that once these suspects were convicted or pled guilty to offenses related to this incident, they could not be prosecuted later for anything relating to the original crime. This meant that these suspects could not be prosecuted for the death of Officer Stowe.

The Homicide Division of the Houston Police Department and the Harris County District Attorney’s Office reviewed this offense. They carefully perused the Harris County Medical Examiner’s autopsy report and determined that they could take no additional legal action against these defendants. Even though they were in fact responsible for the injuries which led to the death of Officer Stowe, they could no longer be held legally responsible.

Officer Stowe’s patrol partner on that tragic night, T. S. Galli, resigned from HPD several times. On the primary backup unit were Officers Michael A. Calix and David B. Casserly. In 2006, Calix was assigned to the Inspector General’s Office and Casserly worked at the Westside Patrol Division. Sergeant C. D. Williams is retired.

In 2006, Gail Stowe was remarried and lived near Lake Sam Rayburn. Son Cody, an eight-year veteran of the United States Army, is a staff sergeant with the 172nd Striker Brigade assigned in Masoul, Iraq. In May 2006, he was due to leave Iraq in two months.

In 2006, Officer Jerry Stowe’s mother and two sisters were still living. His father passed away in 2005. Officer Jimmy Stowe was promoted to Sergeant and after a tour of duty at Central Patrol, was assigned to the Narcotics Division. He was widowed in 2003. Gail’s father passed away in 2001 and her mother lived