Family of Houston man shot and killed by officers suing HPD for $100M

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Tuesday, March 16, 2021
HPD Chief apologizes to family of man shot 21 times by police
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Press play to hear from family members of Nicolas Chavez at a vigil remembering him and from Houston Police Department Chief Art Acevedo who issued Chavez's family a public apology.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- The family of a 27-year-old Houston man who was shot and killed by officers last year is suing the department for $100 million, their attorney announced.

The lawsuit filed on Tuesday comes just as HPD Chief Art Acevedo prepares to leave his post to lead the Miami Police Department.

Nicolas Chavez was killed in April 2020 when four officers fired 21 shots at him during a standoff. Police said officers responded to a call about a suicidal person who was armed and running in and out of traffic. Chavez reportedly ignored commands and threatened officers, according to police.

RELATED LINK: 4 HPD officers fired after unloading 21 shots at man in distress

The shooting then garnered attention after cell phone video of the incident was released.

"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."

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

Plaintiffs in the lawsuit include Chavez's three young children, his parents, Joaquin and Leantha Chavez, and his wife, Jessica.

All the officers involved in the shooting, who were identified last year as Luis Alvarado, Benjamin LeBlanc, Kevin Nguyen, Omar Tapia, and Patrick Rubio, are listed as individual defendants.

Four of the officers named in the lawsuit were terminated from HPD in September 2020.

"We applaud Houston Police Department's termination of the officers that unjustifiably executed Mr. Chavez," said Sean Roberts, the family's attorney. "This case highlights the degree of poor policies related to policing and responding to mentally ill citizens as well as inadequate fitness and training of too many of our police officers tasked with dealing with difficult confrontations. This case demonstrates that all citizens, regardless of race, are at risk of excessive use of force by the police and something has to be done to stop this disturbing pattern, beginning with a deep dive into HPD's flawed policies regarding use of deadly force for the sake of a civilized society."

Acevedo said there are 70 videos from the body-worn camera of officers who were at the scene that night.

Meanwhile, when Eyewitness News spoke with Chavez's mother shortly after the shooting, she said she had doubts.

"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," she said. "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."

The lawsuit now sits in the Houston Division of the Southern District of Texas.

Eyewitness News has contacted the Houston Police Department for a comment and is currently waiting for a response.

SEE ALSO: 'He should still be alive:' Father of man who was killed in officer-involved shooting said

The video above is from a previous story.