HOUSTON (ChurchMilitant.com) - A Texas father has been reunited with his son after spending months in prison for standing off with law enforcement at a hospital.
George Pickering was arrested in January 2015 and spent 10 months in prison for an armed standoff with a SWAT team after hearing the Houston hospital where his comatose son was staying planned to remove his life support.
His son, 27-year-old George Pickering III, was being held at Tomball Regional Medical Center in Tomball, Texas after suffering a massive stroke and falling into a coma. "They were saying he was brain dead. He was a vegetable," says the senior Pickering.
According to local reports, the hospital staff eventually arranged for a "terminal wean," the process of gradually removing an individual from life support; the decision had been approved by the elder Pickering's ex-wife and his other son.
"I knew if I had three or four hours that night that I would know whether George was brain dead," Pickering states. "I had blinders on. All I knew I just needed to have this time with George."
Pickering made his way to the hospital with a gun and entered his son's room, where he barricaded himself inside. A three-hour-long standoff ensued, with the hospital calling in a SWAT team to mitigate the situation. SWAT officials spent much of the time negotiating with Pickering, who refused to yield.
Moments before the SWAT team was able to gain entry into the hospital room, Pickering felt credible movement from his son. "George squeezed my hand three or four times on command," Pickering claimed.
At that point, the determined father surrendered without incident.
According to the family's lawyer Phoebe Smith, "The SWAT team had their own doctors and when they entered into the critical care room, they saw that my client’s son was not brain dead because he was making eye contact, was following their commands and they were completely amazed at this."
Smith went on to praise Pickering's courage. "The amazing thing was that my client was right and that his son did survive. When you see him now, he is a picture of health. I don’t think he would have survived but for the fact that his father slowed the process down."
The father was arrested and charged with two counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, for which he served a 10-month prison sentence. One of the charges filed was eventually dismissed while the other was reduced; Pickering was then credited with time served. He was released in December, in time to spend Christmas with his son who is back to full health.
"There was a law broken, but it was broken for all the right reasons," says Pickering's son. "I'm here now because of it. It was love, it was love."
"The important thing," he continues, "is I'm alive and well, my father is home and we're together again."