HOUSTON – On Friday, Houston Police Department released two 911 recordings they received in the moments before a fatal officer-involved shooting in southeast Houston Thursday night.
Chief Art Acevedo said the recordings provide eyewitness accounts of the chaotic scene Thursday night at a bus stop near the intersection of Scott Street and Noah Street. While there is police body camera footage of the incident, he said it will be released at a later date.
"We want to remind the community that this police department is made up and reflective of this community, the most diverse community," he said. "I am proud of the fact. I get to lead and serve with these men and women."
Acevedo said the first caller was a man while the second was a 53-year-old woman who was in a car with another person. In the second call, Acevedo said the witness was concerned about the sole officer dealing with the suspect, who was later identified by family as 30-year-old Rayshard Scales.
According to officials, the initial officer, identified as J. Goff, tried to get the Scales under control for nearly five minutes. As backup units arrived, police say the Scales made a motion to grab his gun from his waistband. That is when the officer fired his weapon several times and struck Scales.
Scales was transported to the hospital where he was pronounced dead.
Goff has been with HPD for two years, Acevedo said.
Officials later discovered that Scales was carrying a Daisy Powerline 340 BB Repeater Pistol, which looks like a 9mm pistol, Acevedo said.
Despite the rumors, Acevedo said the suspect did not have his hands up, and only the initial officer discharged his weapon.
“I’m not playing (the recordings) to justify or change minds. This is so people can know the facts,” Acevedo said. “I want people to understand how others react, imagine being that one officer for five minutes to not shoot the guy who wasn’t having any of it.”
Here is the full press conference from HPD Friday:
First 911 call
In a 911 dispatch recording, a man said there was a guy with a gun across the street near a Popeyes wearing a grey hoodie with black basketball shorts. The caller said he was not waving the firearm but that it was in his hand, and he was walking to the bus stop. He also said the suspect had a dog with him.
He described the man as a black male in his thirties.
The dispatcher said they were going to send police to the scene.
Second 911 call
The woman in the second 911 sounded panic-stricken and the call included profanity and calls for the officer to “shoot him.”
The caller said a man had a gun on Scott Street in front of the fire station near a bus stop. She said the officer needed help, as the suspect had a gun out.
The caller repeatedly yells for the police officer to shoot the man. She described to the dispatcher a tall but small man wearing a grey jacket in his thirties.
The second recording reveals a “real and raw” account of the shooting, Acevedo said. He said the caller feared for the safety of the officer.
While the recording brings perspective, the decision on whether or not to use force remains with the officer, Acevedo said.
“We want to be transparent and be a department that is proud of the relationship with the community," he said.
Acevedo said won’t stand by to listen to rumors regarding the fatal shooting.
'People want to tear up the fabric we have within the community," he said. “I am not going to stand by and let people make stuff up.”
‘I’m going home’
Police are still trying to discover what led Scales to react the way he did. Acevedo said Thursday night that Scales had called the officer the n-word and advanced toward him, and said, “I’m going home.”
Witness told police that Scales’ mother passed away while he was in jail and that he had been drinking that day.
However, Acevedo said he couldn’t “make sense of the behavior.”
HPD has found no evidence the suspect was a mental health patient. But Acevedo said he understands that doesn’t mean he did not suffer from any mental health issues. He added calls related to mental health has increased during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Acevedo said the toxicity report will reveal what was in his system at the time of the shooting.
“My heart goes out to everyone who loved this man,” he said. “Also to that 53-year-old woman, she had to witness (the shooting). My heart goes to the officer who desperately tried to not use deadly force but in the end, he had to.”
What Scales’ wife says happened?
Nikia Emmitt said Scales was on his way home when they spoke by phone. She said he was walking to a bus stop when an officer approached him.
“I was on the phone with him when they shot him," she said. “When they realized that someone was on the phone they hung up the phone. Before they hung up the phone, I heard them say get down, get down. That is when shots rang after that,” Emmitt said.
Emmitt, who said she first met Scales when he was homeless, did not own a gun of any kind.
“Supposedly somebody called and said that he had a gun, but he not known to carry guns," she said. "He don’t own a gun. I just don’t feel it was right how they shot him. Like, he was just a dog,” Emmitt said.
Emmitt said Scales struggled with mental health and thinks officers should have handled the matter differently.
“He has been through a lot, you know? He was locked up when his momma passed away. It bothers him. And now, he’s gone,” she said.
Emmitt said she spoke to multiple witnesses, who told her Scales did not have a gun in his possession.
“You got people in their cars stopping, saying he didn’t do anything. That he was smoking a cigarette at the bus stop with the dog,” Emmitt said.
Acevedo doesn't believe the officer involved in the shooting will be charged.
"I don't want the community to think the officer will be indicted. I don't see it happening. That's a far bridge to cross," he said. "No way, I see that happening."
Acevedo responded to those who believe the altercation could have been handled differently.
"Everyone is entitled to their opinion," he said. "We have to be guided by law, evidence, facts when they look at the totality of the situation they will have to draw own conclusions."
He also said he doesn't want the rumors to weaken the relationship between the police and the public.
“People can disagree with the officer’s rights, but it’s another to make stuff up. I have a problem with that. That is someone trying to tear apart relationship with the community. It’s not right,” he said.