On the night of April 21, police responded to a call of a man who had been running in and out of traffic, CBS Dallas/Fort Worth reports. The police spent around 15 minutes retreating from Chavez, during which they used bean bag rounds and stun guns on Chavez to try to get him to stop. He kept moving toward the officers, who repeatedly told him to drop what they thought was a knife, but turned out to be a piece of rebar.
One of the officers, identified by Acevedo as Sergeant LeBlanc, fired the first two shots which were deemed “objectively reasonable.” The shots caused Chavez to fall to the ground, but Chavez got back up and and began moving toward the officers again holding the piece of rebar. Another officer then fired a third shot that was also deemed “objectively reasonable.”
While on the ground, Chavez is seen in the video reeling from one of the stun guns that had been used on him. After Chavez got a hold of the stun gun and pointed it at the officers, they fired 21 more shots, killing him.
“The discharge of those 21 shots by those four members of the Houston Police Department are not objectively reasonable,” Acevedo said after showing the footage. “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 we, as long as I’m the police chief in this city, I’ll expect my officers to take.”
Acevedo also said those 21 shots were fired when Chavez was “at his greatest level of incapacitation,” noting that he’d already been shot several times.
“It’s inexplicable to me, when they had plenty of opportunity to back up to continue doing what they were doing, for them to stay the line and shoot a man 21 times,” Acevedo added. “I cannot defend that.”
Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner also spoke at Thursday’s press conference, saying he had watched the video “several times.”
“It’s difficult to watch without questioning why the shooting happened in the end, and wishing the encounter could have ended differently, and knowing that it should have had a different outcome,” he said.
Cellphone video of the shooting taken by a bystander went viral in April, leading activists and Chavez’s father to call for the release of bodycam footage. Chavez’s widow, however, requested the footage not be released because of how graphic the bystander’s video was, according to CBS DFW. The family told CBS DFW that Chevaz had a history of mental illness.
The head of the police union condemned the firings, calling them “unjust and deplorable,” CBS affiliate KHOU-TV reports. “It was clear … these officers did not want to shoot Mr. Chavez and did everything in their power not to,” said union president Joe Gamaldi.
The union also claimed the firings came as a result of political pressure following months of protests calling for police reform following the killing of George Floyd.
According to union vice president Doug Griffith, the shooting was deemed justified by Houston’s independent police oversight board, CBS DFW reported.