Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner on Thursday announced the firing of four Houston police officers over the shooting death of Nicholas Chavez.
Officers Benjamin LeBlanc, Luis Alvarado, Omar Tapia and Patrick Rubio were “indefinitely suspended” after the Houston Police Department completed an investigation into the incident. According to NBC affiliate KPRC, all four officials have filed appeals.
“One should not conclude that the dismissal of these officers is an indictment [the Houston Police Department]Out of 5,300 police officers, “Turner said at Thursday’s press conference. But when you’re wrong, there are consequences.”
Officers shot Chavez – a 27-year-old father of three who allegedly had a history of mental illness – after the locals called 911 on April 21 to report a stray man, apparently in highway traffic Was stepping himself into danger.
After the officers arrived, a standoff was issued and Chavez appeared to be harming himself with a sharp object, according to video and police accounts. The officers pleaded with him, deployed tassers and shot him with bean bag rounds. Police investigations found that they had 24 ammunition.
Of the 24 shots, the first 3 were found to be correct by police investigation as Chavez allegedly grabbed a tusser gun after pulling it towards him with his electrode wire.
The final 21 shots, the report concluded, were not justified, as Chavez was eliminated after an electric shock, bean bag round and three live rounds.
In a nearly 17-minute video edited and narrated by the Houston Police Department, officers are seen from multiple angles during the incident. The video was released after the HPD investigation ended.
A video of Chavez’s shooting was released soon after he was killed on 21 April. In this, Chavez was seen kneeling before officers before being shot and killed.
After his father, Joaquin Chavez, watched the video in April, he described it to NBC News as “an execution”.
“He was on his knees, already injured,” Joaquin Chavez said while making a timely call to release police body camera video. “He was not a threat to anyone at the time.”
“I’m thrilled,” Chavez told NBC News on Friday. “Thrilled that Chief Acevedo decided to eliminate the officers who killed my son and we are getting some justice in this whole situation.” In my mind, this is just the beginning. “
Chavez said he believes that each of the officers who fired on his son at the end of the encounter should face criminal charges.
“I feel for them,” Chavez said. “I think it’s tough for everybody. But at the end of the day, they get to go home, and my son is dead. “
According to NBC affiliate KPRC, the Houston Police Officers Association called the firing “unjust and degrading” and accused Chavez of “forcing our officers into a suicide police scenario”.
Douglas Griffith, vice president of the Houston Police Officers Union, said his organization’s attorneys would represent the four officers at their arbitration, whose opening date has just been set.
“We look forward to the day they will take back their jobs,” Griffith told NBC News.
Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg said in a statement that he met with Chavez’s parents and promised that the civil rights division prosecutors would “review all the evidence of his death.”
“Once we complete our review, we will present the case directly to a grand jury,” Ogg said. “This grand jury will determine whether the Houston police officers who shot Nicholas Chavez were justified or whether they committed the crime.”