The Houston Police Department have fired four officers who fatally shot 27-year-old Nicolas Chavez, whose family said he was going through a mental health crisis during the April 21 incident, CNN reports.
According to the report, Chavez was already on the ground, wounded and incapacitated before the four officers—Sergeant Benjamin Leblanc and officers Luis Alvarado, Omar Tapia and Patrick T. Rubio—fired 21 shots at Chavez.
“The discharge of those 21 shots by those four members are not objectively reasonable,” Police Chief Art Acevedo said. “I don’t consider them objectively reasonable; the chain of command does not consider them objectively reasonable and I believe anyone that watches this…would see they had a lot of opportunities and a lot of other options readily available to them.”
Acevedo acknowledged that Chavez had already been hit by multiple Taser cartridges, bean bags and three gunshots before the final barrage of shots were fired.
The incident all started when officers were responding to a “suicide in progress call” and approached Chavez, who apparently “charged at them with a pointed object in his hand,” according to a press release from April 22.
Three officers discharged their Tasers, which apparently had no effect. Officers then turned to beanbag rounds, which also had no effect. One officer then discharged his service weapon, striking Chavez, who fell to the ground. The man then was seen crawling toward a dropped stun gun and pointing at the officers, who apparently once again fearing for their lives, fired a volley of shots.
According to CNN, Acevedo noted that the two cartridges in the Taser had been discharged.
“You don’t get to shoot somebody 21 times, because at that time, when we discharged those 21 rounds, Mr. Chavez was at his greatest level of incapacitation,” Acevedo added.
The Houston Police Officers’ Union blasted the department’s decision to fire the officers, claiming that they acted justly, The New York Times notes.
“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.”
However, Acevedo noted that 28 officers were at the scene at the time, and that there was plenty of cover and distance when Chavez was reaching for the Taser.
“That man could have had 100 cartridges in the empty Taser, the maximum effective range is 21 feet,” he said, taking a few steps from the podium. “I’m done. That’s all I got to do. Back up. Do what you’ve been doing.”
“If you’re that fearful, fearful with 28 officers, of a man that’s been wounded already, I don’t need you as a police officer,” he added. “Do you want me to bring them back so they can do it again to somebody else? I don’t think so.”