1st police-worn body camera footage released under HPD's new policy

Friday, June 4, 2021
1st bodycam vid under new HPD policy released
The case involved four officers shooting and killing an armed man, but its significance is intertwined with a critical shift within Houston police.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- The Houston Police Department released body camera video Thursday afternoon, showing an incident from May 21 which left one man dead.

It happened near Bissonnet and the Southwest Freeway.

Around 1:30 a.m., officers were performing a traffic stop that stemmed from a road rage investigation.

During their investigation, authorities said an uninvolved man, later identified as Zaekwon Gullate, approached them.

Multiple angles of body camera footage from four officers on scene show the encounter. Sound from the incident recorded what police believe was Gullate telling HPD Sergeant Rivera to shoot him, before he reportedly pulled out a gun.

Officers said Gullate fired a shot before three of them returned fire.

At a press conference at HPD's police headquarters, Chief Troy Finner said the officers treated Gullate with a first aid kit before paramedics arrived.

He was pronounced dead later at a hospital.

This incident is particularly significant because it occurred around the time Mayor Sylvester Turner announced instituting reforms into the police department, including a vow to release body camera video in officer-involved shootings with 30 days "in an effort to increase transparency and build trust between police and the community."

The video released Thursday came just weeks after the incident, well within the 30 days promised by city leaders. It's a significant shift in department policy, which comes after task force recommendations to improve police relations.

Last month, 13 Investigates' Ted Oberg reported on HPD's request to keep the video secret, citing internal affairs and open criminal investigations.

After the mayor was asked about HPD's request, Chief Troy Finner told ABC13 they would be withdrawing their letter, promising to indeed release the video within 30 days, in accordance with the city's new policy.

Officials reiterated that no findings from the May 21 incident are available as the investigation is still in the early stages.

Timeline: 13 Investigates take a look back at the city's promises to release body camera video from officer-involved shootings and if they've followed through.

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

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