Off-duty cop arrested for shooting woman during road rage

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Off-duty cop arrested for shooting woman during road rage

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KIMBERLY SMITH/AJC
A gun sits on a table next to the right hand of a dummy "victim."

A Texas police officer was arrested last week after allegedly shooting a woman in the head -- while off-duty -- in a fit of road rage.

Kenneth Caplan, a 34-year-old reserve deputy constable with Harris County Precinct 6, was arrested on Nov. 26 and charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. According to KHOU, Caplan fired at another driver on Nov. 11 after she cut him off on the 610 Loop in Houston (retaliation, she said, for him cutting her off moments before).

The victim told KHOU, "All of a sudden I'm driving, and this guy cuts me off. He was about to hit me. I switched to the other lane, I got in front of him and I cut him off. I guess that pissed him off. He went like that and he just fired at me. And then all of sudden I heard a ring in my ear." She said she spent three days in the hospital and received eight staples in her head.

Houston police told the Houston Chronicle that Caplan fled the scene but later confessed to the shooting. 

Officers around the country are under heightened scrutiny this year following a series of controversial, public police actions, including the July arrest of Eric Garner in New York City (critics allege that police used excessive force and an illegal chokehold in arresting Garner, causing his death) and the August shooting death by a white officer of unarmed black teenager Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo.

Police response to summer protests in the wake of Brown's death drew further attention to the "militarization" of departments nationwide, especially in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, where police now have access to automatic weapons, grenade launchers and more.

Following the announcement that officer Darren Wilson would not be indicted in Brown's death, another wave of protests spread, including to Atlanta. (U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder will visit Atlanta to discuss these issues today.) And while such protests included both peaceful and violent moments -- including vandalism and looting and arrests, just locally -- the response by Nashville, Tenn., police is being held up as an "example" for the nation.

According to the Tennessean, "In Nashville, police offered protesters coffee and hot chocolate as they arrived at the front door of police headquarters on James Robertson Parkway. They smiled and shook hands. A few officers even thanked the protesters for coming."

When demonstrators shut down Interstate 24, police declined to arrest them and instead allowed the demonstration to continue, according to the Tennessean. They dispersed after about 30 minutes.

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