The Houston Police Department fired four officers Thursday after an investigation found that a fatal police shooting of a 27-year-old man was unreasonable.
The four officers responded to reports of a mentally unstable man, Nicolas Chavez, on April 21 and opened fire on him after he picked up a police taser, according to video of the incident released Thursday. Just three of the officers’ 24 shots were deemed “objectively reasonable,” Chief Art Acevedo said, according to CBS News.
“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 we, as long as I’m the police chief in this city, I’ll expect my officers to take,” Acevado said at a Thursday press conference, The New York Times reported.
WARNING: GRAPHIC VIDEO
The four officers were joined by several other officers during the confrontation, according to the released body cam footage. Officers appeared to give Chavez instructions which he would not listen to prior to the shooting. (RELATED: Police Union: Atlanta Police Officers ‘Afraid’ To Do Their Jobs And Then Getting Fired)
At one point, Chavez told the officers to shoot him, according to the video. Chavez also appeared to cut himself with a piece of metal in his hand.
“Stop cutting yourself man. Relax,” said Officer Omar Tapia, one of the officers who was fired Thursday.
Chavez was tazed multiple times and shot by non-lethal firearms during the confrontation, video shows.
Sgt. Benjamin LeBlanc was the first to shoot Chavez with a lethal weapon, shooting him twice as he appeared to charge, Acevado said at the press conference. Minutes later, Officer Kevin Nguyen fired a single shot at Chavez, who appeared to make another charge, causing him to fall to the ground.
These three shots were deemed reasonable “based on the totality of the circumstances,” Acevado said.
Officers attempted to provide medical attention to Chavez, but he wouldn’t allow them to come near him brandishing the piece of metal, according to Acevado. After more time passed, Chavez then grabbed an officer’s taser, which had been dropped on the ground to prevent anyone from tripping on its wire.
LeBlanc, Tapia and two other officers immediately fired a combined 21 shots at Chavez, Acevado said. None of these shots were deemed reasonable, according to Acevado who added that 28 officers were at the scene and were not in danger.
“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,” Acevado said, The Times reported.
Houston Police Officers’ Union president Joe Gamaldi defended the four officers saying the shooting was an example of “suicide by cop,” The Houston Chronicle reported.
Police departments nationwide have faced scrutiny in the wake of the death of George Floyd who died in police custody on May 25 after an officer kneeled on his neck, video shows.
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