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The shooting death of Alva Braziel raised questions for HPD. Now with the release of the body cam footage, more questions have arrived.

Early Thursday morning, Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner published the videos of the July 9th shooting of Alva Braziel. Braziel, 38, was shot and killed by officers of the Houston Police Department seconds after officers saw him standing on Cullen Boulevard with a gun in his hand.

During a press conference Thursday, Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner said he hoped the videos would eliminate rumors of Braziel being unarmed. The issue the newly released videos raised is a simple one: why did the officers in question not turn on their body cameras until after the shooting?

In a 19-minute video published onto the Houston Police Department’s YouTube channel, there are views from three perspectives. The first is the surveillance footage from the gas station which has been widely circulated. The second and third points of view come from the officers body cameras just as Braziel’s body is seen lying on the ground.

The footage does show a officer removing a gun from Braziel’s hand. Following the shooting, one officer calls for backup and an ambulance. Still reeling from the tension after five Dallas police officers were gunned down on Thursday, the two officers exchange their concerns with one another.

“Just make sure ain’t nobody run up with no pistols or nothing,” one says in the video. “Watch your back,” another says.

The revelation of the video only supports Mayor Turner’s claim that Braziel was indeed armed during the incident. They fail to indicate whether or not officers properly warned Braziel before the shooting took place.

Braziel’s wife Nikkita viewed the video before the public on Thursday. “They say he waved it at them. He didn’t wave no gun at them,” she told KPRC 2. “You can hear the people on the side say, ‘Why is you shooting him down like that?’ And then you can hear the law come back to his truck and say, Fuck.’ They fucked up.'”

“It was hard to watch. I just wanted to see where he pointed the gun at them. That was not shown. What was showed was where they gunned him down,” she continued. “In his last breath I heard the people say, ‘He tried.’ He say(s) we’re calling the ambulance for you.’ Yes he wanted help. He took his last breath and the man walked back and said, ‘Fuck. ‘What does that mean?”

Interim Houston police chief Martha Montalvo released a statement after the issuing of the videos. She said that the officers did not cut on their body cameras until after the shooting had taken place. HPD’s body camera policy requires officers to begin recording before engaging in any law enforcement activity, such as trying to detain a suspect. However, Montalvo stated that officers have a right not to cut on the cameras if he or she is in immediate danger.

The body camera footage doesn’t capture the shooting of Mr. Braziel. 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.

There is a provision (Item 10: Failure to Activate BWC) in our body camera general order (which mirrors state law) under Failure to Activate the Camera that states “there may be circumstances where it is immediately necessary for the officer to act in order to ensure his safety or the safety of others. In those situations, it may be impractical or unreasonable for the officer to activate their BWC before taking police action. In these instances, the officer shall activate his BWC as soon as it is safe to do so, to ensure that the remainder of the incident is properly recorded.

Alva Braziel’s funeral is set for Saturday. Both officers involved in the shooting are on paid administrative leave. The case is being investigation by HPD’s Homicide & Internal Affairs Divisions as well as the District Attorney.

Photo via YouTube

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