HOUSTON – A group of community leaders, including the NCAAP Houston and FIEL, an immigrant-led civil rights organization, are calling for justice for Nicolas Chavez, a Houston man who was shot and killed by several police officers during a confrontation in April.
On Thursday, the Houston Police Department announced the firing of four officers in connection to the fatal officer-shooting and released the body camera footage from the incident. HPD Chief Art Acevedo said a total of 24 shots were fired, and only three were justified.
“We witnessed the release of a video with a man on his knees, unarmed, posing no threat, being shot 21 times,” said NACCP Houston Vice President Bishop James Dixon II. “We cannot express what it was like to watch that video and the others who will see it. We know people will be moved deeply. But here again, another one of God’s children has been treated publicly as if their life did not matter.”
Dixon also said, “We are expressing with unanimous voice, that we are appalled beyond measure.”
While agreeing with Acevedo’s decision to fire the officers, Dixon called for the Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg to conduct a “swift investigation” into Chavez’s death. He said the officers involved should be charged, indicted and prosecuted to the full extent of the law.
Nicolas Chavez’s mother Leantha Chavez also reacted to the release of the video and the dismissal of the officers.
“I’m elated over what Acevedo finally did. However, it doesn’t change how my heart feels. It’s very hard to be happy and sad about something so tragic,” Leantha Chavez said.
She added while she believes the firing of the officers was a necessary step, more needs to be done.
“Now it’s time to move onto the next step, which is charging them,” she said.
Nicolas' father, Joaquin Joe Chavez, spoke on Friday to express his concerns following what he saw in the video.
Joaquin Chavez said it’s been an emotional 48 hours and the family is they’re asking for justice for their son.
After watching the video, he said he believes the officers involved in the shooting should have handled the situation differently. Joaquin Chavez said he firmly supports the firing of those four officers involved and wants them to be indicted and criminally charged.
“I think the main request right now is going to be justice for our son,” he said. “Because if you see the video, if you’ve seen the video, the last 10 seconds did not have to happen at all. And my son should still be here.”
While sending condolences to the Chavez family, Cesar Espinosa, executive director of FIEL, described the footage as appalling. He said sweeping changes in policing are needed.
“We want this to be a moment, a defining moment in Houston’s history,” Espinosa said.
Houston, the most diverse city in the country, can use this as an opportunity to lead by example as to how cities can improve its criminal justice system, Espinosa said.
“So, we won’t have another Nicholas Chaves,” he continued.
Espinosa also called for the Houston Police Officers' Union to retract its statement regarding the shooting and become a bridge to unity.
“We would all like to make it home to our family,” he said.
The leaders also pushed for the community to seek justice in a peaceful manner.
Here is the full statement from Espinosa released earlier Thursday:
I have seen the full footage of the encounter between 28 HPD officers and Nicolas Chavez where the officers shot and killed Chavez. After watching the video, as a community member, I am thoroughly convinced that the Houston Police officers who shot Nicolas 21 times while on his knees were not justified in their actions. After hearing that Chief Acevedo has fired these 4 officers, we’ve been in contact with HPD and have expressed to them that this is a good first step in seeking justice for the Chavez family. We regret that this has taken so long but we encourage the community to keep pressure on HPD and the District Attorneys office so that these officers may be held accountable for their actions. We further condemn the words and actions by the Houston Police Officers Union and believe that their rhetoric thus far is only going to ignite more polarization and distrust from the community towards the police. We ask the community to remain peaceful while continuing to demand that the officers involved in this gruesome death be held accountable.
Here is the full press conference from the civil rights organizations Thursday:
Chavez’s death police footage
Cesar Espinosa, the Executive Director of FIEL, an immigrant-led civil rights organization, holds a press conference to react to police body camera footage from the death of Nicolas Chavez. READ MORE: https://www.click2houston.com/news/local/2020/09/10/watch-live-fiel-immigrant-led-civil-rights-organization-responds-to-body-camera-footage-from-chavezs-death/Posted by KPRC2 / Click2Houston on Thursday, September 10, 2020