HOUSTON (KTRK) --Surveillance video from the night Alva Braziel was shot and killed by Houston police officers appear to show him pointing a gun at them as they pull up. Within seconds, they shot him.
On July 9, Braziel died after police officers opened fire on him near Cullen Boulevard and Ward Street. The full video can be viewed on the police department's YouTube channel. (Warning: Graphic footage and language)
"The officers pull up, he raises his hands up in the air like this, he still has the gun in his hand," said Houston Police Officers' Union Vice President Joe Gamaldi. "Then he starts to lower it to point the gun at the officers. Then at that point they fire."
The officers turned their body cameras on after they shot Braziel. Gamaldi says even though the cameras don't capture the actual shooting, it shows enough for him to believe the officers were completely justified.
"As you walk up, you can clearly see that the firearm is in his hand with finger in the trigger guard on the trigger, which means he was intending to fire," he said.
In response to questions about why video of fatal shooting was not part of the release, HPD released the following statement from Acting Chief of Police Martha Montalvo:
"The body camera footage doesn't capture the shooting of Mr. Braziel. The two officers viewed the threat to themselves and the public as immediate, stopped their patrol vehicle and exited the vehicle even before it was in park. Once the threat was contained, officers activated their cameras.
There is a provision (Item 10: Failure to Activate BWC) in our body camera general order (which mirrors state law) under Failure to Activate the Camera that states "there may be circumstances where it is immediately necessary for the officer to act in order to ensure his safety or the safety of others. In those situations, it may be impractical or unreasonable for the officer to activate their BWC before taking police action. In these instances, the officer shall activate his BWC as soon as it is safe to do so, to ensure that the remainder of the incident is properly recorded.
HPD will continue to stress in training the importance of activating the BWC.
As to whether policies were adhered to in this case, that will be part of the investigation, which is still active. A copy of the HPD Body Worn Camera general order is posted on the HPD website at http://www.houstontx.gov/police/body_cameras/index.htm"
VIDEO: Police union says officers followed correct protocol
To some Houstonians, that perception is different.
"I saw his hands up, and I see him turning around. I don't know what they instructed him to do. We don't hear the audio either," said Sunnyside community activist Travis McGee.
McGee is one of a significant number of people who say the video doesn't show what Mayor Turner claimed it did.
"I believe there's more to the story whether that may make Mr. Braziel look bad or whether it may make HPD look bad. The situation is just bad all the way around," said Ashton Woods with Black Lives Matter-Houston.
"We were expecting to see the man pointing the gun at the police officer. We also were expecting to see someone shooting in the air," added McGee.
Braziel's widow reacted with emotion and outrage Thursday morning. She said body cameras show her husband didn't threaten law enforcement.
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Nikita Braziel demanded justice. She said the video doesn't exonerate HPD.
Mayor Turner said while "unfortunate," the shooting was justified.
"They don't even shoot a dog as many times as they shot him," said Braziel. "They killed him for no reason. There are no answers, no questions, no nothing right now. I gotta bury him Saturday but I want justice from HPD."
Braziel watched the footage at HPD Headquarters Thursday morning.
"You can see the laws shoot him down and his hands with his pistol in his hands. They say he pointed it at them. He didn't point no gun at them. They say he waved at them. He didn't wave no gun at them. You can hear the people on the side say 'why are you shooting him down like that?'" said Braziel. "You can hear the law come back to his truck and say (expletive).' They (expletive) up."
The Mayor wouldn't make predictions about future releases of body camera video. However, HPOU says expectations may be a little too high for the cameras, and that they're just one piece of the investigation puzzle.