There are certain people you just don’t mess with. Many of them – as a matter of proven fact – are Houston police officers.
Two of them work the night shift in Clear Lake. An alleged capital murder suspect in a stolen black sedan – who kidnapped the girlfriend he found with another man – in effect messed with Officers Jordan Stepp and Eddie Powell.
ABCs, S and H
It didn’t pay off.
The two officers were division partners driving separate patrol cars. In the darkened early morning of Feb. 9, 2020, they got the word that the suspect had shot to death a man in Southeast Houston, then he was believed to be headed toward his brother’s apartment in the Clear Lake district.
The teamwork and professionalism exhibited by Stepp and Powell earned them the 2021 Patrol Officers of the Year honor sponsored by the HPOU and Assist the Officer. Official presentation of the annual award will not take place for another year due to the COVID-19 restrictions.
That won’t prevent us from telling you the story of these two officers the suspect shouldn’t have thought he could outwit. It didn’t take him long to get the message.
Stepp and Powell used their cell phones to gather as much information about the killer as possible from their teammates from Southeast Patrol. The two proved they knew the ABCs of policing when they heard that the suspect had a brother who resided in an apartment complex doff Fuqua. The complex had the letters “S” and “H” in its name.
Powell quickly narrowed the choices of complexes on Fuqua and said he and Stepp should head to the Shady Hollow Apartments to look for the stolen vehicle and, hopefully, find the suspect with his kidnap victim.
“I really think this is the place where we should start,” Powell said to Stepp, a military brat and Iraq combat veteran who has law enforcement roots a mile deep.
“I suggested we wait across the street and see if he showed up,” Stepp recalled.
They parked their patrol cars in the ready but craftily out of sight at the Jiffy Lube across the street from the complex’s parking lot.
Then came the oft-practiced routine of police work: Hurry up and wait.
Powell, a Pasadena native with that ever-present policing DNA, grew up hearing police war stories from his uncle, now retired Sgt. Gary Clark. Powell and Stepp had a well-developed working relationship on the streets of Clear Lake’s district, frequently making scenes together. This one was special.
Stepp’s hails from a military family with deep roots in public service with a law enforcement edge. Plus, he is married to Officer Meghan Stepp of the gang unit who has four generations of HPD Blue blood flowing in her veins.
We repeat: the bad guys shouldn’t mess with Stepp and Powell. After this February night they would have a war story that is bound to last generations.
They dutifully watched for an hour until they spotted the black sedan in question and carefully exercised a felony traffic stop, making sure other officers in the area knew what was happening. The suspect had a pistol and had already taken one human life.
The officers were able to contact the armed individual and began giving commands to exit the vehicle.
Happy Ending to War Story
“The vehicle description and license plate number matched,” Powell said. “We knew he was in that specific vehicle. As soon as we pulled him over, she (the kidnap victim) jumped as if trying to get away from him.”
The pullover put the suspect’s vehicle at an angle that prevented Stepp and Powell from having a clear view of his hands as he was getting out of the car. They soon learned that he had a gun in his hand ready to pull the trigger. But had second thoughts.
A third officer had arrived and had a gun trained on the individual. Three-on-one wasn’t good odds. The officers found a pistol on the ground that the suspect had tossed aside rather than fire.
“Once we put the cuffs on him, he clammed up,” Powell recalled. “He did nothing. He was cold.”
Word on the street was the suspect intended to kill his kidnap victim/girlfriend. She was upset but relieved to be rescued. Her now ex-boyfriend had dragged her by the hair and at gunpoint to begin his brief rampage.
The officers also found another pistol in the backseat of the stolen vehicle. As the result of the work of Stepp and Powell, the suspect was charged with capital murder, aggravated kidnapping with a deadly weapon and aggravated robbery with a deadly weapon.
“We worked together as a team,” Stepp said. “It was one of those deals that just happened to work out well.”
“We didn’t see the gun in his hand because the car was turned sideways,” Powell said. “When he got out of the car, we couldn’t see his hand and didn’t know at the time he had a gun in his hand.”
The two officers had captured a capital murder suspect in a matter of a few hours, practically using techniques that were straight out of a textbook at the academy.
Who are these guys?
Stepp’s father is retired Army Lt. Col. Joe Stepp, a Green Beret and former member of
1st Special Operations, Operational Detachment – Delta. After his retirement the lieutenant colonel served overseas with the Department of Defense in the intelligence community. Back in Texas he became the regional intelligence law enforcement coordinator for the southeast part of Texas, headquartered at the Pasadena Police Department.
Stepp’s mother Jerri, now retired, served as the lead nurse for the Clear Creek Independent School District. His sister Bethany is married to Houston firefighter Jeremy Lemmons.
And what of Stepp’s married life? His wife Meghan is the daughter of retired HPD Sgt. Frank Miller and his wife, retired Senior Police Officer Jeanine Maughmer Miller.
While Meghan is the fourth generation HPD blue blood, her parents are the third. The second include the storied Earl Maughmer, one of the founding members of the Houston Police Officers Association, which became the Houston Police Officers Union.
Capt. Maughmer was Jeannine’s uncle but there also was her dad (Earl’s brother), Solo Motorcycle Officer Lynn Maughmer. Her grandfather (first generation) was Lt. E. R. “Ray” Goodnight. His brother was HPD Sgt. Glenn Goodnight. The HPD Goodnights’ brother was Harris County Sheriff’s Capt. S. T. Goodnight.
Law Enforcement Dedication
The military brat/HPD officer graduated from Deer Park High School and became an infantryman in the U. S. Army in 2007, serving with the 82nd Airborne Infantry Division in Iraq. When he got out of the military in 2010, he served as a jailer and dispatcher for the Pasadena PD.
Stepp joined HPD in 2011 as a member of Academy Class No. 210, graduating in September 2011. He served in Southeast Patrol as a rookie before going to South Central TAC. He is now a field training officer at Clear Lake.
He and Meghan have three children. They don’t yet know if there is a fifth generation HPD officer amongst them.
Eddie Powell Jr. was born and raised in Pasadena. He graduated from Sam Rayburn High School and went to work for his uncle, Rick Hall, building differentials and drive shafts for 10 years. The business was called Drive Line Service Company of America. The son of truck driver, Eddie Sr., Powell went back to school at San Jacinto College to become a repertory therapist. He worked in that capacity for three years at Memorial Hermann before turning to the HPD.
He entered Academy Class No. 204, graduating in July of 2009. He trained at Clear Lake and found a home there on night shift patrol.
“I’ve always had an interest in law enforcement,” Powell said. “My uncle retired from HPD in 2007 right before I came on. As a kid I heard his cop stories. He was a helicopter pilot, a TAC sergeant – he was very active in the department and I was always fascinated by his stories.”
Two of Powell’s cousins were LaPorte police officers, Billy Harris and Steve Ermel. Both are retired and Ermel is an investigator for the Harris County District Attorney’s Office.
Powell and his wife Julie have two daughters.
Now it’s his turn to tell great cop stories.