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4 HPD officers reinstated after 2020 shooting death of Nicholas Chavez

“It was clear when viewing the video that these officers did not want to shoot Mr. Chavez and did everything in their power not to,” HPOU's president said back then.

HOUSTON — Four Houston police officers fired by former Chief Art Acevedo after the 2020 shooting of Nicholas Chavez have been reinstated, according to HPD. 

Police Chief Troy Finner said the officers appealed and an independent arbitrator sided with them after determining there wasn't proof that they violated policies.

Finner said he believes that policies were violated but he respects the decision to reinstate them. He asked for prayers for the Chavez family.

"It's a difficult time, as I've stated, for the Chavez family, our department and our community," Finner said. "I just want everybody to be respectful, everybody has differences of opinion but let's all respect the process and let's have some time for healing."

RELATED: More coverage of Nicholas Chavez case

The chief said the officers will get back pay and will undergo reintegration training since they've been away from the department for nearly two years. 

Mayor Sylvester Turner issued a statement about the decision.

“I reviewed the video shortly after the shooting of Mr. Chavez and was disturbed by what I saw. The city dismissed the officers, but the independent hearing examiner has reinstated them. It is important that before any consideration is given to placing these officers back on the street, they be retrained and fully understand the policies of this city. Mr. Chavez’s family lost a loved one, and even though the hearing examiner has reinstated these officers, no one should be rejoicing under the circumstances.”

Last September, a Harris County grand jury determined that criminal charges were not warranted in the shooting death.

WATCH: Chief Finner news conference

What happened the night Nicholas Chavez was shot?

Police had responded to several 911 calls the night of April 21, 2020, about a possibly suicidal man running in and out of traffic in east Houston.

Chavez was armed with a piece of rebar which officers said they believed was a knife. For the next 15 minutes, bodycam videos show the officers trying to de-escalate the situation.

HPD released the full video of the incident. The video is graphic and contains offensive language. Tap here to view it in its entirety.

While on his knees, Chavez then grabbed a Taser that had already discharged both cartridges and pointed it at the officers. The officers fired 21 shots, killing him.

“This individual kept coming towards the officers, refusing commands to drop the knife, drop the weapon," Acevedo said after the shooting.

The shooting sparked protests and civil rights leaders demanded justice. 

Officers fired

Acevedo fired the officers five months later, a decision that was criticized by the Houston Police Officer's Union. In a tweet, the union said Acevedo's decision to fire the officers was "unjust and deplorable."

“It was clear when viewing the video that these officers did not want to shoot Mr. Chavez and did everything in their power not to,” President of the Houston Police Officers Union Joe Gamaldi said at the time.

He said the city’s Independent Police Oversight Board, which includes civilians, unanimously agreed the shooting was justified.   

At the time, Acevedo said the officers didn't need to fire 21 times.

“It’s objectively not reasonable when a man’s been shot multiple times, shown he can’t get up, quite frankly it’s inexplicable to me when they had plenty of opportunity to back up and stay the line, shoot a man 21 times. I can’t defend that,” the chief said.

In March 2021, Chavez's family filed a $100 million lawsuit against the Houston Police Department, the City of Houston and five police officers, accusing the officers of violating Chavez’s due process. The lawsuit has since been dismissed.

The Greater Houston Coalition for Justice Monday denounced the decision to give the officers their jobs back. The group said it asked the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate the case after the grand jury's decision not to indict them.

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