HOUSTON - The Houston Police Officers’ Union says four officers were fired in connection to the deadly shooting of Nicolas Chavez in April.
Police said Chavez was shot by officers who had responded to a call about a suicidal man on April 21. Police said he had a pointed object in his hand.
Authorities said, after several attempts to detain Chavez and stop him with non-lethal methods, he was shot on Gazin near Market Street around 9 p.m.
Chief Acevedo later confirmed that a disturbing video circulating on social media was from the incident, and he said a thorough investigation was underway.
The chief said investigators were reviewing 70 body camera videos with footage of the entire altercation. Activists have continued to demand the release of the body camera footage.
On Thursday, the union confirmed that the officers had been fired and called the decision “unjust” and “deplorable”.
Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo and Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner held a news conference Thursday to announce the department's findings in the investigation.
"The discharge of those 21 shots, for those four members of the Houston Police Department, are not objectively reasonable,” Acevedo said. It’s inexplicable to me, when they have plenty opportunity to back up and continue to be doing what they were doing, for them to stay the line and shoot a man 21 times."
Acevedo continued saying, “This is a matter of judgment. If you’re that fearful with 28 officers, of a man that’s been wounded already, I don’t need them as a police officer. If you think the answer is to stand your ground because the statute allows you, instead of taking two or three steps, if that’s how little you value life, I don’t need you in this department.”
Mayor Sylvester Turner stood with Acevedo during the news conference.
"What happened the night of April 12 has dramatically affected many people and this City. Nicolas Chavez’ life was taken, and his family must live with their personal loss and anguish for the rest of their lives," said Turner. "Today is a difficult day for all of us, especially the Nicolas Chavez family, HPD, the four police officers and their families, and our city."
Turner discussed the video and his stance toward the Houston Police Department.
"The video is difficult to watch without questioning why the shooting happened and wishing the encounter could have ended differently and knowing that it should have had a different outcome."
"No one should conclude that the dismissal of these officers is an indictment on HPD, of the 5,300 police officers. But when you are wrong, there are consequences. And for the good of every police officer who serves, for the good of everyone that followed the rules, that protect this city, it is important for us to call a ball, a ball, and a strike, a strike."
"And police officers, when they do their job, I will stand by you. But when you fire, like in this case, at the end, when there was no imminent threat, then accountability must take place in order for our city to move forward. And that’s what’s happening here today. It’s not an easy matter, and it’s difficult for all of us. But you can’t bring back Mr. Chavez, and you can’t fill the hole in this family’s life. But we can move forward, in spite of our pain, to work together, to heal our city. And that’s what we’re doing here today."
LULAC also held a news conference following the Houston Police Department news conference. In the news conference, the family of Nicolas Chavez reacted to the announcement from the Houston Police Department and Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner.
Congresswoman Sylvia Garcia (TX-29) issued a statement Thursday regarding the deadly shooting:
“Five months ago, the Houston region was shaken to its core by the fatal shooting of Nicholas Chavez, who was shot more than 30 times by several police officers during a confrontation in Denver Harbor. I know today is a difficult day for all of us, especially for the Nicolas Chavez family, the Houston Police Department, and our city. The footage from that day is difficult to watch. It has made us question what the Houston Police Department can do differently to deescalate situations and avoid excessive force when at all possible."
“And unfortunately, I agree with Mayor Sylvester Turner and Police Chief Art Acevedo in their decision to fire the four officers in this case. In the final seconds of this encounter, the question is whether or not Nicolas Chavez was an imminent threat to any of the officers or the general public. And, in this case, it appears there was no imminent threat. He should have lived to receive the help that he needed that day.”
“The City of Houston has 5,300 police officers, and the vast majority of them do an excellent job in keeping our community safe. I thank them for their service, but holding officers accountable for wrongdoing does not take away from this. Accountability will only make our police department stronger and better stewards of our community, and this is a goal we should all be in support of.”
FIEL and several other organizations reacted to the firings as well.
The officers who were fired are expected to file an appeal for their jobs.