SEVERE WX : Frost Advisory View Alerts

4 Houston police officers involved in fatal shooting are fired

Four Houston police officers have been fired for fatally shooting an apparently emotionally disturbed man who was on the ground, wounded and incapacitated.

Posted: Sep 13, 2020 7:11 AM
Updated: Sep 13, 2020 7:11 AM

Four Houston police officers have been fired for fatally shooting an apparently emotionally disturbed man who was on the ground, wounded and incapacitated, before a final volley of 21 shots, officials said.

Police Chief Art Acevedo showed graphic bodycam video, later released publicly, and announced the department's findings into the April 21 shooting of 27-year-old man Nicolas Chavez.

Acevedo said Thursday that Chavez had been incapacitated by multiple Taser cartridges, bean bags and three gunshots before the four officers fired -- after he was down -- a total of 21 shots in the final moments of a 15-minute encounter.

Before the final burst of gunfire, Chavez is seen in video crawling and pulling at wires attached to a police Taser. "Don't do it," an officer is heard saying. The gunfire erupted as he cradled the Taser in his hand.

Acevedo said the two cartridges in the Taser had been discharged.

The chief, speaking hours after the police union condemned their termination, said the officers are appealing.

Acevedo said that even after repeated verbal warnings, the deployment of multiple soft impact rounds and the two Tasers, Chavez was still "armed with a metal object and began moving quickly toward" the officer who fired the first two shots.

But he called the barrage of gunfire at the end unreasonable.

"The discharge of those 21 shots by those four members are not objectively reasonable," Acevedo said. "I don't consider them objectively reasonable; the chain of command does not consider them objectively reasonable and I believe anyone that watches this ... would see they had a lot of opportunities and a lot of other options readily available to them."

He added, "You don't get to shoot somebody 21 times because at that time, when we discharged those 21 rounds, Mr. Chavez was at his greatest level of incapacitation."

Chavez's father, Joaquín Chavez, told CNN Friday that his son had struggled with depression and anxiety but that he didn't know what his son was going through the night died. The firing of the officers marked the beginning of justice for his son, he said.

"He had his issues. He went through a lot. I just don't understand," he said of his son. "I don't think I'll ever find out why he was out on the street that night."

The father said he watched the police body camera footage on television Thursday from his home in Spring, Texas. He didn't know so many shots had been fired.

"It brought back a lot of the hurt and sorrow and sadness," the father said.

The incident started with several 911 calls about an apparently emotionally disturbed man jumping in front of cars and entering backyards.

Acevedo said toxicology tests revealed Chavez had methamphetamine, amphetamine and ethanol in his system when he died.

Edited body camera footage showed the officers initially repeatedly pleaded with the man to surrender.

"Hey, bud, we're here to help you, man," one officer is heard saying.

Acevedo said Chavez was hit with numerous Taser cartridges, and bean bags, as well three gunshots -- which the department deemed "objectively reasonable" based on the totality of the circumstances and the facts this case before the final burst of gunfire.

"In this case, I have concluded there was no imminent threat to any police officer, and they could have returned home to their families," an emotional Mayor Sylvester Turner told reporters, adding that the firings were not an indictment of the entire 5,300-officer department.

Still, the Houston Police Officers' Union blasted Acevedo hours before the city's top cop and Turner announced the department's findings.

Union officials said the encounter lasted about 15 minutes, during which the officers attempted to de-escalate the incident by retreating, firing bean bags and using Tasers on the man before resorting to lethal force when he pointed a stun gun at them.

The Harris County district attorney is investigating the shooting.

Joe Gamaldi, union president and also national vice president of the Fraternal Order of Police, tamped down speculation that the incident was racially motivated. Chavez was Latino, he said. Three of the officers are Latino and the fourth is married to a Latina.

"It was clear ... these officers did not want to shoot Mr. Chavez and did everything in their power not to," Gamaldi told reporters.

Douglas Griffith, the union's first vice president, who said he was called to the scene after the shooting, also defended the officers. He said they were young, with little time on the job, and that their actions were considered justified by an internal police disciplinary committee investigation and some civilian members of an independent police oversight board.

The shooting was "obviously suicide by cop" and reflected the department's failure to properly train officers, he said.

"These officers did everything they could. They backed up, backed up, backed up until they couldn't back up anymore," he said.

The officers "begged and pleaded" with Chavez to surrender, according to Gamaldi. Chavez told the officers several times that he wanted to be shot, Gamaldi said.

Union members said the department bowed to political pressure following nationwide protests against police brutality.

"They did everything that everyone across this country is asking for law enforcement to do," Gamaldi said of the officers. "They de-escalated and retreated for 15 minutes -- 15 minutes! They used every non-lethal option available. Multiple bean bag shotgun rounds until they ran out. They used multiple Tasers all while giving verbal commands to Mr. Chavez to give up peacefully that he did not adhere to."

Gamaldi called the firings "unjust" and "deplorable," claiming the victim was attempting to die via suicide by cop. The officers used restraint and "every non-lethal option available" until, according to Gamaldi, Chavez pointed a Taser at them.

"This has sent a shockwave through our department -- that even if you de-escalate, even if you retreat, even if you follow policy, training and the law, you will still lose your job as a Houston police officer," Gamaldi said.

Huntsville/Redstone
Partly Cloudy
45° wxIcon
Hi: 73° Lo: 43°
Feels Like: 39°
Muscle Shoals
Cloudy
45° wxIcon
Hi: 74° Lo: 42°
Feels Like: 39°
Huntsville/Madison
Cloudy
44° wxIcon
Hi: 72° Lo: 42°
Feels Like: 37°
Decatur
Partly Cloudy
46° wxIcon
Hi: 75° Lo: 45°
Feels Like: 41°
Fort Payne
Mostly Cloudy
46° wxIcon
Hi: 73° Lo: 44°
Feels Like: 43°
WAAY Radar
WAAY WAAY-TV Cam
WAAY Temperatures

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 522512

Reported Deaths: 10790
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson755371494
Mobile39129799
Madison34124500
Tuscaloosa25408444
Montgomery24059573
Shelby23225242
Baldwin20730302
Lee15638166
Calhoun14358311
Morgan14171273
Etowah13705348
Marshall12012220
Houston10416279
Elmore10024203
Limestone9862148
Cullman9509191
St. Clair9486236
Lauderdale9280233
DeKalb8762183
Talladega8127173
Walker7151276
Autauga6763106
Jackson6762110
Blount6532133
Colbert6236132
Coffee5436113
Dale4781111
Russell431239
Franklin421382
Chilton4130110
Covington4069115
Tallapoosa3922148
Escambia390374
Dallas3528150
Chambers3519122
Clarke347360
Marion3076100
Pike306676
Lawrence296395
Winston273272
Bibb256761
Marengo248561
Geneva246475
Pickens233259
Barbour227155
Hale218675
Butler213268
Fayette209660
Henry188444
Cherokee182744
Randolph177841
Monroe173140
Washington165538
Macon156548
Clay150255
Crenshaw149557
Cleburne147041
Lamar140034
Lowndes137353
Wilcox124727
Bullock122040
Conecuh109728
Perry107726
Sumter103332
Coosa99428
Greene91434
Choctaw58824
Out of AL00
Unassigned00

Tennessee Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 835842

Reported Deaths: 12081
CountyCasesDeaths
Shelby930851587
Davidson88030924
Knox49813624
Hamilton43402485
Rutherford42319420
Williamson27545216
Sumner23492341
Montgomery19623224
Wilson18472229
Out of TN1803295
Unassigned16760132
Sullivan16184287
Blount15180194
Bradley14599147
Washington14177242
Maury13211169
Sevier13166175
Putnam11168173
Madison10789241
Robertson9607130
Anderson8627171
Hamblen8498171
Greene7739152
Tipton7226104
Coffee6831121
Dickson6734109
Cumberland6568127
Carter6468156
Bedford6426129
Gibson6402144
McMinn636597
Roane6191102
Jefferson6073121
Loudon601669
Lawrence580686
Hawkins5781106
Monroe570995
Warren551381
Dyer5361104
Franklin508688
Fayette492178
Obion450296
Cheatham444454
Cocke443798
Rhea431275
Lincoln430663
Marshall411158
Campbell409662
Weakley402862
Giles395399
Henderson372975
Macon358077
Carroll357582
White354868
Hardin349766
Hardeman346464
Lauderdale314444
Henry312475
Marion309946
Claiborne306273
Scott305545
Overton296961
Wayne294334
Hickman280546
McNairy276854
DeKalb275653
Smith274838
Haywood268361
Grainger259149
Trousdale249022
Morgan246039
Fentress238546
Johnson231638
Bledsoe209711
Chester209451
Crockett201048
Polk200024
Unicoi194549
Cannon188931
Union186034
Grundy177933
Humphreys174221
Lake169526
Sequatchie166728
Benton163240
Decatur157338
Lewis155826
Meigs134823
Stewart130828
Jackson129935
Clay109031
Houston108533
Perry105728
Moore100017
Van Buren83421
Pickett75624
Hancock54912

Community Events