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Houston-Area Police Officer Killed By Man Fleeing Traffic Stop

Nassau Bay Police Sgt. Kaila Sullivan
Associated Press
Nassau Bay Police Sgt. Kaila Sullivan

A Houston-area police sergeant was killed when a man wanted on a domestic violence warrant broke free from police while being handcuffed, fled from a traffic stop and struck her with his vehicle, police said.

The search continued Wednesday for 21-year-old Tavores Henderson, who police said likely still has one handcuff attached to his wrist. Harris County Sgt. Dennis Wolfford said a warrant for felony murder had been issued for Henderson.

“Turn yourself in. We will eventually catch up to you,” Wolfford said Wednesday.

Nassau Bay police Sgt. Kaila Sullivan was assisting in a traffic stop Tuesday night at an apartment complex when police discovered the driver, later identified as Henderson, had an outstanding warrant for assault on a family member, Nassau Bay Police Chief Tim Cromie said.

Credit Associated Press
Associated Press
Tavores Henderson

Police were in the process of handcuffing and arresting Henderson when he escaped the officers and got into his vehicle, Cromie said.

Henderson then drove off, striking Sullivan, who later died at a hospital, Cromie said. The vehicle was discovered abandoned and police believe he ran away. Later Wednesday morning, police and SWAT officers searched a home where Henderson’s mother lived, but Henderson was not there, Wolfford said.

Authorities are offering a $20,000 reward for information leading to Henderson’s arrest, Crime Stoppers of Houston said.

Sullivan, 43, was approaching her 16-year anniversary with the Nassau Bay Police Department and had worked on the night shift, Cromie said, calling her “a consummate professional in police work.” Nassau Bay is located about 25 miles southeast of Houston and has about 4,000 residents.

“She was a police officer at heart. She came to work every day, she enjoyed the job,” he said. “Her blood ran blue. She was a police officer’s police officer.”

Wolfford said it is likely the felony murder charge against Hendeson will be upgraded to capital murder.

The Harris County Sheriff’s Office was leading the search for Henderson. Sheriff Ed Gonzalez said Sullivan’s death was “another grim reminder” of how dangerous police work can be, noting that the community is still mourning the Saturday death of a Houston police officer and the September shooting death of a Harris County deputy.

According to court records, the misdemeanor arrest warrant Henderson was wanted on is from an alleged assault of his ex-girlfriend, whom authorities say Henderson grabbed and scratched as he tried to kidnap her Sunday.

Before the alleged assault Sunday, Henderson had been indicted on a felony charge of aggravated assault-family member for allegedly choking his ex-girlfriend and threatening her with a firearm on Nov. 16, 2018, in her car as she was at his apartment complex.

Henderson then “yelled ‘Open the door or I’ll shoot you.’ The (ex-girlfriend) told (police) that she had previous encounters with the defendant threatening her with a gun and shooting at her,” according a probable cause affidavit of the 2018 charge.

Henderson had been free on a $50,000 bond related to the 2018 assault charge when the arrest warrant on the charge related to the alleged Sunday assault was issued.