HOUSTON – Officials in Houston released video footage Thursday showing police officers shooting a black man who police said had been holding a gun while standing in a street.
Footage taken from the body camera of one of the officers shows them moving toward Alva Braziel, 38, after he was shot in the early morning hours of July 9. Blood stained the front of his white shirt as an officer removed a handgun from his right hand. The body-cam footage released by police begins after the shooting happened, though nearby surveillance video captured the shooting.
Mayor Sylvester Turner said during a news conference Thursday that the footage was being released to dispel claims on social media that Braziel was unarmed.
"I don't want a single police officer shot at and hurt based on erroneous information," Turner said. "The community and police must work hand-in-hand. We both need each other."
Turner noted that under state law such police video is usually not released until after both criminal and administrative investigations are completed. Houston police and the Harris County district attorney's office are investigating the shooting.
But he said the deadly shootings of five officers in Dallas and three in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, have created tense relations and that releasing the footage was "in everyone's best interest."
"The reality is that this was not a case of an unarmed person being shot by police," he said.
Community activists and civil rights groups had called on the city to release all video footage from the shooting, and many of the groups have been critical of the Houston Police Department's history of deeming nearly every police shooting justified in the past 11 years.
The footage released Thursday included a recording from a convenience store surveillance camera that shows Braziel in the distance. The video is dark and it's difficult to see clearly what Braziel has in his hand and what happened in the moments before officers fired. The recording is then followed by body-cam footage showing the aftermath of the shooting.
Davis Haines, an attorney for Braziel's family, didn't immediately return a call Thursday for comment.