Slain HPD sergeant's vest may have been penetrated: chief

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- A bulletproof vest worn by slain Houston police Sgt. Christopher Brewster was "potentially penetrated" when he responded to a domestic disturbance call, according to HPD Chief Art Acevedo.

After first releasing the information on Monday, Acevedo added additional details Tuesday.

"We need to determine whether we're looking at a round; a manipulation of the round by the suspect on the ballistic to defeat the vest our officers wear; or are we looking at a vest that failed to meet manufactured specifications?" said Acevedo.

The chief would not name the vest's manufacturer, but as a precaution, he and the union are urging patrol officers to also wear heavy rifle vest. The heavier vests are worn outside the uniform, as opposed to the standard issue vest that's worn underneath. Every HPD officer has one, but they're usually only worn regularly by SWAT officers or other high-risk units.

"We have tested a vest from the same lot as Sgt. Brewster's at the (shooting) range," said Acevedo. "That vest appears to have met and withstood the testing."

But, the investigation is far from over. In describing Brewster's murder, Acevedo choked up and held back tears.

"A 32-year-old man should not be dead, and it's not just him. It's every day in this country. If you don't understand the emotion, then check your pulse. You don't understand me or you don't understand profession," Acevedo said.

Arturo Solis, 25, was charged with capital murder of a police officer in connection with Brewster's death on Saturday. Police said Brewster was responding to a disturbance on Avenue I in Houston's East End involving Solis and his girlfriend.

District Attorney Kim Ogg said a decision has not yet been made about whether to seek the death penalty.

"We filed capital murder so he's facing up to the death penalty right now, but the determination about whether we seek it will be based after we get all the evidence in," said Ogg.

On Monday, a judge ordered Solis held without bond. After HPD's tweet went out, Joe Gamaldi, president of the Houston Police Officers' Union, expressed concern over the potential of failure in equipment.

"We're extremely concerned. I think what's important right now is we get to the bottom of this very, very quickly," said Joe Gamaldi, president of the Houston Police Officer's Union. "We need to know if this was armored-piercing rounds being used by the suspect or if this was a failure of the vest, we need to know immediately. If this was just a problem with this vest or if this is a larger problem amongst several vests our officers might have on right now."

Brewster, 32, was recently promoted to sergeant, and left behind a wife, parents and two sisters. The sergeant's funeral is set for Thursday.


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