3 HPD officers fire at man who pulled out cellphone

HPD: Suspect was hit in the leg and expected to survive

HOUSTON - Houston police officers shot at what they thought was a man with a gun, but the suspect was pulling out a cellphone instead and apparently trying to get killed, police said Monday.

Police said they received a call about a man with a gun acting suspiciously at an apartment complex in the 8800 block of Beechnut Street near Jorine Drive at 11:10 p.m. Sunday.

When officers arrived, they approached 26-year-old Yoanis Vera, who matched the suspect description.

"(We received) a report that a male with a red shirt and blue jeans was in the complex and armed with a weapon. The officers, acting on that information, arrive out here and they proceed to tell the suspect in English and Spanish to show his hands," Houston Police spokesman John Cannon said.

Vera refused despite multiple requests, officials said. He then reached for something in his waistband and pulled out something black, according to investigators.

The officers, fearing for their lives, each took a shot Vera, police said. Vera was hit at least once in the leg. He was taken to Memorial Hermann Southwest Hospital in stable condition. Doctors said Vera's injuries were not life-threatening.

Investigators said it turned out that the black object that Vera pulled from his waistband was a cellphone. Police said Vera has a history of mental illness and has attempted suicide several times, including a couple of months ago.

Houston police said Vera admitted to officers in the hospital that he was trying to commit suicide by having the officers shoot and kill him. Investigators said Vera made the 911 call in an attempt to be killed. No charges have yet been filed.

Cannon identified the officers who fired at Vera as 6-year veteran Officer C. Meade, 3-year veteran Officer A. Smith, and rookie Officer C. Levrier.

An investigation is under way, as is customary for all officer-involved shootings.

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