Four Houston police officers were fired Thursday following an extended investigation into a fatal shooting in which officers fired an “objectively unreasonable” 21 rounds at what appeared to be an emotionally disturbed man.
The incident occurred on April 21 at around 9 p.m. when several officers responded to a series of emergency calls about a man running through traffic on a highway, ABC News reported.
Law enforcement approached the 27-year-old suspect, Nicholas Chavez, as he was running and holding a metal object, police reported.
The entire interaction lasted around 15 minutes as police attempted to stop Chavez “from harming himself” as police shot him with stun guns and bean bags, said Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo in a body-camera footage compilation that was also released Thursday.
Acevedo announced at a press briefing Thursday the investigation found only three of the 24 gunshots to be “objectionably reasonable,” adding that before firing bullets, the officers discharged five cartridges of stun guns and deployed six beanbags.
“I believe that anyone that watches this tape, and sees this, will see 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 of this city, I will expect my officers to take,” Acevedo said.
The fired officers are Sgt. Benjamin LeBlanc, who discharged two of the 21 shots; Omar Tapia, who discharged six; Patrick Rubio, who discharged six; and Luis Alvarado, who discharged seven.
“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,” Acevedo said Thursday. “I cannot defend that.”
Excluding the four terminated officers, there were 24 other police at the scene in April.
Chavez was taken to a local medical facility, where he died, authorities said.
A coroner reported he suffered from 29 wounds, skip rounds and bullet fragments entering and exiting.
His autopsy revealed he had methamphetamine, amphetamine and ethanol in his system, according to Acevedo.