"It was hovering over the apartment when we started recording," one witness said. "Then it went in front of the apartment in our view, it started spinning and took a nosedive."
The aircraft was flying over a bayou where there were reports of bodies in the water when it went down, according to Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo.
It crashed into a club house at an apartment complex and missed hitting any apartment units.
"Whoever was flying the helicopter did a pretty good job of avoiding killing anybody," apartment complex owner Steve Moore said. "The helicopter actually hit the office and ended up partly in the pool."
Houston Police aviation operations have been suspended as federal investigators have been called in to investigate. Harris County and Texas DPS helicopters will cover Houston skies in the interim, according to Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo.
The pilot was in critical condition at Memorial Hermann Hospital Saturday morning.
The officer who died, identified as Jason Knox, was the tactical flight officer on board. He is survived by his wife and two young children.
RELATED: Houston Police helicopter crashes, killing 1 officer
Saturday's crash was the second involving an HPD helicopter in the past year. A pilot and trainee were involved in a hard landing at Hobby Airport in July 2019.
The two survived the incident that caused the aircraft to roll on to its side.