HPD chief Art Acevedo says he's investigating deadly officer-involved shooting in east Houston

Jessica Willey Image
Thursday, April 30, 2020
Chief promises a thorough investigation of police shooting
Chief promises a thorough investigation of police shooting.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo says he has questions about the deadly shooting of a man by officers in east Houston last week and he promises a thorough investigation.

According to Acevedo, the entire incident lasted 14 minutes. The last 45 seconds of it was captured on a citizen's cell phone video which has now been posted on YouTube.

Nicolas Chavez, 27, was killed. He had three children. His mother questions the use of deadly force.

Acevedo said officers responded around 9 p.m. on April 21 to the 800 block of Gazin Street in east Houston. The call was for a suicidal person, who was armed and running in and out of traffic.

He had a sharp object, Acevedo said, which turned out to be a piece of rebar. He said Chavez was ignoring commands, threatening officers and stabbed himself. They first fired bean bags and used tasers on him and even shot him twice before the fatal gunshots. Those came as Chavez was on his knees and reeling from an officer's taser, Acevedo said. A barrage of gunfire followed. That's the part caught on the widely-circulated cell phone video.

"That video raises a lot of questions, but I promise you, they will be answered," Acevedo told reporters. "We hold our people to standards. They're trained. We're going to look at everything and will come back with our findings, both criminally and administratively as soon as we can."

Chavez's mother has doubts. Leantha Chavez told ABC13 she was the last one to see her son and questions why investigators have not talked to her since the night of the shooting.

"Is It just that they already made up their minds and are being biased towards the officers involved that used excessive force on a man they could have tackled and cuffed. They are making my son into something he wasn't. These men took him from me, my family and his friends. Shame on the police for the way they are manipulating the facts to support their theory," she said.

Acevedo said there are 70 videos from the body-worn camera of officers who were at the scene that night. They are still reviewing those videos. The Harris County District Attorney's Office is also investigating.

HPD released the names of the officers involved. They have been placed on administrative duty following the shooting, per departmental policy.

Sgt. Benjamin LeBlanc, 12 years with HPD

Patrick Rubio, 2 years

Omar Tapia, 1 year

Kevin Nguyen, 1 year

Luis Alvarado, 1 year