Advocates call for transparency from HPD after deadly April officer-involved shooting

Suspect killed in officer-involved shooting in northeast Houston, police say
Suspect killed in officer-involved shooting in northeast Houston, police say

HOUSTON – The Greater Houston Coalition for Justice is demanding transparency from the Houston Police Department after an officer-involved shooting on April 21 that left a man dead.

The organization held a news conference in front of the police department to demand the release of body cam video. The suspect, 27-year-old Nicolas Chavez, was shot and killed on Gazin Street near the feeder road of the East Freeway.

The call for transparency comes after a civilian video of the deadly encounter circulated on social media. The video showed Chavez on his knees, lunging at officers before he was tasered and then fatally shot.

HPD Chief responds to video

HPD Chief Art Acevedo told KPRC 2 that he has some concerns about the video but was not be able to say whether he thought the shooting justified or not until he had finished getting into what people knew and will let the investigation take its course. When the shooting first happened, Acevedo said, “when you have officers discharging less-lethal bean bags, discharging tasers, trying to give the suspects commands to please comply, and he gets up again and comes at them, and they shoot a second time, you have to draw your conclusions.”

Acevedo would not elaborate on specifically what his recent concerns were about how the incident was handled. He did caution that the video circulating online only showed the end of a very long confrontation, but admits “it is tough to watch.”

RELATED: HPD chief responds to civilian video of fatal officer-involved shooting

What happened

On the night of April 21, Acevedo said police responded to reports of the man trying to jump in front of vehicles. Acevedo said the first unit arrived around 8:57 p.m. and checked the area. He said more reports came in about the man running around the neighborhood, jumping fences and threatening residents with some type of metal weapon.

Police said residents flagged officers to the man’s whereabouts around 9:15 p.m. An officer spotted the suspect and reported that the man was armed with a possible knife, Acevedo said. About two minutes later, the officer alerted that shots had been fired after the suspect refused to comply.

At the time, Acevedo said preliminary information revealed the man was stabbing himself, trying to stab at the officer and refused to comply with orders. He said the officer discharged his weapon when the man began coming toward him with the knife. Officials said the suspect was still not complying and a responding HPD officer and a Harris County Precinct 6 Constable’s deputy deployed their tasers, which were ineffective when the suspect pulled the tasers out.

Police said other officers fired bean bags, which was also ineffective.

Acevedo said when the suspect tried to charge at the officers again, officers discharged additional rounds, striking the man. The man was pronounced dead at the scene. No officers were injured in the shooting.

The suspect’s mother told officers that her son just recently got out of jail and was dealing with emotional issues, Acevedo said.

What’s next?

A sergeant who has been with HPD for 11 years, an officer who had been with HPD for 2 years and three officers who had been with the department for 1 year each were involved in the shooting and all have been placed on administrative leave, which is standard protocol during an investigation, Acevedo said.

No timetable was given as to when the investigation would be complete.

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