HARRIS COUNTY, Texas - A Harris County grand jury declined to indict two Houston Police officers for the shooting death of an armed man in the middle of Cullen Blvd.
Alva Braziel was shot and killed on July 9, 2016. Houston Police Department spokeswoman Jodi Silva said the two officers were on routine patrol when they spotted the man, holding a gun. Silva said when police approached him, the man was pointing the gun straight up in the air. She said they ordered him to drop it. She said a bystander did, too.
Instead, officers said, the man pointed his gun at them.
"Both officers discharged their duty weapons,” Silva said. “Immediately, we called for aid…however, the suspect was pronounced dead at the scene."
According to the Harris County District Attorney's Office, the case was evaluated and presented to the grand jury by a senior prosecutor with experience in civil rights investigations.
“It is our duty to be transparent and ensure that grand jurors have the opportunity to make informed decisions on whether a crime has been committed,” said Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg. “These decisions can impact people’s lives forever.”
Thursday’s presentation marked the second time Braziel’s death had been considered by a grand jury and the second time a grand jury declined to indict the officers.
The first time the case was presented to a grand jury, Braziel’s family members said they had been unaware of the proceeding. They then asked for the opportunity for additional information, including possible new evidence, to be considered by a grand jury.
A few days after the shooting, Mayor Turner asked the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate the shooting.
Turner said he had seen surveillance footage from the incident and that Braziel ignored officers commands to put the gun down and in turn.
"These are some tense times and I don't want our community to be charged, energized in a negative way, more than what it is based on things that are put out that are factually incorrect." Turner said. Turner stressed that he didn't believe this is another case of an unarmed man being shot by police but protesters and Braziel's family strongly disagreed.
Around 200 protesters gathered at a vigil held for Braziel a day after the shooting.
Nikita Braziel, Alva's wife, saw the video before it was released to the public, and said it only raised more questions for her.
"My reaction when I saw that video was, 'Why? Why?,'" Braziel asked. "What happened to, 'Can we help you? Put the gun down.' They don't do that anymore?"
The Houston Police Department released graphic body cam video of the incident.
The body cam footage did not show the actual shooting. HPD addressed that in a written statement:
“The two officers viewed the threat to themselves and the public as immediate, stopped their patrol vehicle and exited the vehicle even before it was in park. Once the threat was contained, officers activated their cameras."
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