Four Houston, Texas, officers will lose their jobs after the fatal shooting of a wounded man in April.
The Houston Police Department announced that four of the five officers who fired a total of 24 rounds during the encounter had been fired. Houston police chief Art Acevedo made the decision, releasing body camera footage and 911 calls.
“If you’re that fearful, fearful with 28 officers, of a man that’s been wounded already, I don’t need you as a police officer,” he said in a press conference. “Do you want me to bring them back so they can do it again to somebody else? I don’t think so. The video speaks for itself.
The officers fired are identified as Sgt. Benjamin Leblanc and Officers Luis Alvarado, Omar Tapia, and Patrick T. Rubio who together fired 21 shots at the suspect after he had already been shot multiple times, hit with bean bags, and targeted with tasers.
“The discharge of those 21 shots by those four members of the Houston Police Department are not objectively reasonable,” Chief Acevedo said.
“I don’t consider them objectively reasonable, the chain of command does not consider them objectively reasonable, and I believe that anyone that watches this tape, that sees this, would see that they had a lot of opportunities and a lot of other options readily available to them that as long as I’m the police chief in this city, I’ll expect my officers to take.”
On April 21, police were called to Gazin Street for an alleged suicide in progress. The initial statement claims the suspect charged at HPD with a pointed weapon at one point during the incident.
“As the officers engaged the suspect, he charged at them with a pointed object in his hand. Three HPD officers discharged their Conducted Energy Devices (CED) at the suspect, which had no effect. Officers then deployed several bean bag rounds at the suspect, which also had no effect,” the statement reads.
“The suspect continued to charge at the officers with the pointed weapon in his hand. Fearing for his life, one officer discharged his duty weapon and struck the suspect, who fell to the ground. The suspect then crawled to a CED that had been dropped by an officer, picked it up, and pointed it at the officers. Fearing for their lives, officers discharged their duty weapons and struck the suspect. Houston Fire Department paramedics responded to the scene and pronounced him deceased.”
The victim, Nicolas Chavez, 27, was remembered by his widow and parents. His wife, Jessica Chavez, says her husband struggled with possible mental illness.
“It makes me hurt deep down inside because he is my husband and I do love him and I do care for him,” she said to local news outlet Click 2 Houston.
“It was an execution,” Chavez’s father, Joaquín Chavez said to The Marshall Project after watching cellphone footage of his son being shot while on his knees.
“That’s what they did, and that’s the part I don’t understand. He was on his knees, already wounded. He wasn’t a threat to anybody at that point.”
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