Activists monitoring probe of police shooting of Houston man

AP News
|
Posted: Jul 10, 2016 7:47 PM

HOUSTON (AP) — Activists and community leaders said Sunday they are monitoring the investigation of a fatal shooting in which two Houston police officers killed a man who authorities say had pointed a gun at officers after ignoring commands to drop the weapon.

The Houston chapters of the NAACP and Black Lives Matter say they are waiting for more details about the early Saturday shooting of 38-year-old Alva Braziel.

The two officers were on a routine patrol around 12:40 a.m. Saturday when they came across Braziel, who was in the middle of the street, holding a revolver in his hand and acting erratically, said Houston police spokeswoman Jodi Silva.

The officers ordered Braziel to drop his weapon and at least one witness at the scene was also asking him to do the same, Silva said. Braziel then pointed the gun in the air and as he lowered it, he brought it to his waist level, pointing directly at the officers, she said.

"The officers are not only in fear of their safety but for the safety of the witnesses and they discharged their weapons," Silva said.

Braziel's death comes amid national unrest following fatal police shootings in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and suburban St. Paul, Minnesota, as well as a shooting attack in Dallas that left five police officers dead and seven others wounded.

Family members of Braziel could not be reached for comment Sunday.

In a statement, acting Houston Police Chief Martha Montalvo said initial information indicated Braziel might have been under the influence of a drug.

Silva identified the officers by their first initials and last names, standard procedure for the department. They are L. Luis, a 13-year veteran of the force and E. Macias, a 10-year veteran.

"It absolutely is on our radar," Yolanda Smith, executive director of the NAACP Houston Branch, said Sunday about Braziel's shooting. "We want our citizens to be able to interact and enjoy their lives freely. We also want the police to be able to do their job, to protect and to serve us."

In a statement posted Saturday on its Facebook page, the Houston chapter of Black Lives Matters said it was demanding that all video, including footage from body cameras the two officers wore, be released to the public.

Surveillance video from a gas station located across the street from the shooting was making the rounds on social media. Some people on Twitter suggested that the video showed Braziel had his hands up before he was shot.

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.

Silva said investigators have collected the surveillance video and that along with the body camera footage will be reviewed as part of the investigation by Houston police and the Harris County District Attorney's Office. No video will be released while the investigation is being conducted, she said.

"We extend condolences to the man's family and regret his loss of life. We appreciate everyone understanding the early facts of the case and know our officers were protecting their lives and our neighborhoods," Montalvo said.

___

Follow Juan A. Lozano on Twitter at www.twitter.com/juanlozano70