Four Houston police officers have been terminated for fatally shooting Nicolas Chavez, an unarmed, emotionally disturbed man.
27-year-old Chavez had been incapacitated by multiple Taser cartridges, bean bags and three gunshots and was seen in video crawling and pulling at wires attached to a police Taser.
After the officers’ repeated verbal warnings, deployment of multiple soft impact rounds, and two Tasers, Chavez, “armed with a metal object and began moving quickly toward” the officer who fired the first two shots.
The blunt metal object that was initially thought to be a knife was later found to be a piece of metal rebar.
The Houston Police Department released body camera footage of the incident and announced the firings on Thursday.
Police Chief Art Acevedo said at a news conference that out of the 24 shots the officers fired at Chavez, only three were deemed “objectively reasonable.”
“The discharge of those 21 shots for those four members of the Houston Police Department are not objectively reasonable,” said Acevedo.
“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.”
“You don’t get to shoot somebody 21 times because at that time, when we discharged those 21 rounds, Mr. Chavez was at his greatest level of incapacitation,” Acevedo added, “I cannot defend that.”
The medical examiner counted a total of 29 wounds including “skip rounds” – bullets that hit the ground first before hitting Chavez as fragments.
Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner fought back tears during a news conference on Thursday, as he said, “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.”
“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.”