The mayor of Houston said Wednesday that he plans to release video footage of a black man’s fatal police shooting in the city as part of efforts to preserve safety in the wake of recent shootings of police officers in other communities.
Calling the atmosphere in the country “unsettled” and “tense” after the shootings of officers in Dallas, Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and elsewhere, Mayor Sylvester Turner said he wants to dispute claims that 38-year-old Alva Braziel didn’t have a gun when he was shot earlier this month. Turner said he will release the body camera footage and surveillance video Thursday, after waiting a day to give Braziel’s family a chance to see the footage first.
Surveillance video from a gas station near the shooting scene has circulated on social media, with some people suggesting the footage shows Braziel had his hands up before he was shot and wasn’t armed. The video is dark, and it’s hard to see clearly what Braziel might have had in his hand and what happened in the moments before officers fired.
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“I don’t want another police officer being shot at or killed based on that false narrative, not in this city,” Turner said, adding that the footage being released Thursday will show Braziel was armed.
Davis Haines, an attorney for Braziel’s family, didn’t immediately return a call Wednesday for comment.
Community activists and civil rights groups have called on the city to release all video footage from the July 9 shooting, and many of the groups have been critical of the Houston Police Department’s history of deeming nearly every police shooting justified in the past 11 years.
Acting Houston Police Chief Martha Montalvo said releasing the video will promote “transparency, accountability” and will help authorities protect the community and promote public confidence.
Turner said under state law, such video is usually not released until after both criminal and administrative investigations are completed. Houston police and the Harris County district attorney’s office are investigating the shooting.
I have made the decision to release it because of the exigent circumstances that we find ourselves in,” he said. “When there are five officers shot in Dallas and three in Baton Rouge and when there are questions being raised about unjust shootings and when I know what the fact is, then I think it’s important for the general public to see it in this particular case.”
The two Hispanic officers involved in the shooting of Braziel in Houston had been on a routine patrol around 12:40 a.m. on July 9. Police said the two encountered Braziel in the middle of the street and that he was holding a revolver in his hand and acting erratically.
Police officials said the officers ordered Braziel to drop the gun and that at least one witness at the scene asked him to do the same. Police said Braziel then pointed the weapon in the air, lowered it to his waist level and pointed it directly at the officers.
The officers were placed on administrative duty.