Four Houston Police Officers Are Fired in Fatal Shooting of Nicolas Chavez

“Was that necessary? Wow, he’s dead,” the bystander says. “They killed him.”

The Houston Police Officers’ Union condemned the firings on Thursday, saying the officers had acted responsibly. “They tried to communicate, they tried to de-escalate,” Douglas Griffith, the first vice president of the union, said at a news conference. “The officers acted in the manner in which they were trained and by policy.”

Mr. Griffith described the item in Mr. Chavez’s hand as an “edged weapon” that the officers believed was a knife, and said Mr. Chavez had harmed himself with it.

Joe Gamaldi, the president of the union, said that officers shot Mr. Chavez after he had pulled in the wires of a stun gun and then pointed the device at an officer. “What happened to Nicolas Chavez was a tragedy,” he said. “These officers did not want to shoot Mr. Chavez, and did everything in their power not to.”

In April, the department said the shooting would be investigated by the Police Department’s Special Investigations Unit, the Internal Affairs Division and the Harris County District Attorney’s Office.

Over a month later, as protests spread around the country in the wake of the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Mayor Sylvester Turner and Chief Acevedo of the Houston police held a news conference to discuss recent shootings by the police. Mr. Chavez’s widow, Jessica Chavez, said at that news conference that she did not want the body camera footage to be released.

She told KPRC-TV in April that her husband’s body had three stab wounds, according to a funeral home. “But I didn’t necessarily believe he was trying to kill himself,” she said. “It was just a scream for help. He probably needed some kind of mental help.”

Mr. Chavez’s father, Joaquín Chavez, had called this summer for the body camera footage to be released. He could not immediately be reached for comment Thursday.

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