HOUSTON, Texas — Houston's police chief says four police officers have been terminated after an internal investigation determined they did not use reasonable force when they fired their weapons 21 times at a man who had been experiencing a mental health crisis.
The man, 27-year-old Nicolas Chavez, was already injured and on the ground when he was shot and killed by the officers on the night of April 21.
During a news conference Thursday, video footage was presented from body cameras showing Chavez, who had already been shot and was bleeding, kneeling on the ground and grabbing a stun gun when the four officers shot him.
WARNING: The video below contains graphic clips and may be difficult to watch.
"Let me be clear, it's objectively not reasonable to utilize deadly force when a man's already been shot multiple times, has been tased, has been on the ground, has shown that he really cannot get up," said Police Chief Art Acevedo on Thursday. "I cannot defend that."
At the briefing, Mayor Sylvester Turner said the dismissal of the four officers isn’t an indictment of the police department and its nearly 5,300 others officers.
“But when you are wrong, there are consequences,” he continued. “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."
Turner acknowledged the effect Chavez’s death has had on the city and expressed sympathy for his family.
"What happened the night of April 12 has dramatically affected many people and this city,” said the mayor. “Nicolas Chavez’ life was taken, and his family must live with their personal loss and anguish for the rest of their lives."
Leaders with the Houston Police Officers’ Union denounced the firings, saying the officers tried to de-escalate the situation but were forced to shoot Chavez.
“This unjust and deplorable decision by Chief Acevedo has sent a shock wave through HPD. Even if you deescalate, retreat, follow policy, training and the law...you will still lose your job as a Houston Police Officer,” tweeted Joe Gamaldi, the president of the Houston union.
Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg said in a statement Thursday that prosecuters will be conducting an independent review of all the evidence in Chavez’s death and once it’s complete, the findings will be presented to a grand jury. They’ll determine whether charges will be brought against the officers involved.