Nicolas Chavez shoots: 3 Houston cops and 1 sergeant reinstated after firing 21 shots at suspected suicidal thoughts

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) — Three Houston police officers and a sergeant who fought to get their jobs back after shooting and killing a suicidal man in 2020 have been reinstated.

The officers and sergeant brought their case before an arbitrator last week.

In April 2020, police responded to a call in east Houston about a man identified as Nicholas Chavez, in distress, who was armed and pulling into traffic on the 800 block of Gazin Street.

Body camera video showed Chavez bleeding from a gunshot wound. Before officers began firing 21 shots, Chávez apparently grabbed a taser.

Former HPD chief Art Acevedo fired the officers and the sergeant for using undue force. At the time, Acevedo said even though Chavez picked up the stun gun, officers had ample time to retreat and take cover. Chavez was already injured, having previously been shot during his altercation with police. Officers had also fired bean bags and stun guns at him before he was killed.

ORIGINAL REPORT: 4 HPD officers fired after firing 21 shots at a man in distress

In a video presentation of body camera footage narrated by Acevedo, portions of 911 calls made the night of Chavez’s shooting can be heard, where callers tell operators that a man is running around “having a mental breakdown.”

In the footage, officers can be heard telling Chavez, “Hey dude, hey dude, we’re here to help you man” and “Just relax. Nobody’s shooting” and “We’re trying to help you man. “

Chavez, who hears the officers swearing, was seen wildly flailing his arms and legs. Officers fired bean bag shotgun shells at Chavez and used their stun guns, but it had little effect on Chavez.

At one point in the video, an officer said Chavez had a knife. Officials told him to turn it off. Investigators later discovered that Chavez had a piece of metal that he used to cut himself.

These officers were identified as follows: Officer Patrick Rubio, who had been with the department since May 2018; Officer Luis Alvarado, with the department since March 2019; Officer Omar Tapia, with the department since March 2019; and Sgt. Benjamin LeBlanc, with the department since October 2008.

According to our partners at the Houston Chronicle, Chavez’s family said he was mentally ill, and in 2020 they filed a $100 million wrongful death lawsuit.

A judge dismissed it, and a grand jury declined to charge the officers and the sergeant.

HPD boss Troy Finner is expected to speak about reinstatement around 3 p.m. on Monday.

Copyright © 2022 KTRK-TV. All rights reserved. Nicolas Chavez shoots: 3 Houston cops and 1 sergeant reinstated after firing 21 shots at suspected suicidal thoughts

Dais Johnston

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