Houston police chief criticized after ripping 'smug' Senate Republicans for officer death

Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo is being criticized this week after he ripped into Senate Republicans, accusing them of delaying legislation for the benefit of the NRA, this after one of his officers was killed in the line-of-duty over the weekend while responding to a domestic abuse call.

Acevedo accused lawmakers at a news conference Monday of not doing their part to prevent the death of Sgt. Christopher Brewster, 32, who was fatally shot by Arturo Solis Saturday night.

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“We all know in law enforcement that one of the biggest reasons that the Senate and Mitch McConnell and John Cornyn and Tex Cruz and others are not getting into a room and having a conference committee with the House and getting the Violence Against Women’s Act is because the NRA (National Rifle Association) doesn’t like the fact we want to take firearms out of the hands of boyfriends that abuse their girlfriends,” Acevedo said.

“And who killed our sergeant? A boyfriend abusing his girlfriend. So you’re either here for women and children and our daughters and our sisters and our aunts or you’re here for the NRA.”

Acevedo was referring to a bill aimed at helping victims of domestic and sexual violence that has stalled in the Senate due to a provision which ends the “boyfriend loophole” and makes it easier to take away guns from violent offenders, even if they are not a spouse or domestic partner.

The NRA has opposed this provision.

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Art Acevedo (pictured) accused lawmakers at a news conference Monday of not doing their part to prevent the death of Sgt. Christopher Brewster, 32, who was fatally shot by Arturo Solis Saturday night. <br data-cke-eol="1">

Art Acevedo (pictured) accused lawmakers at a news conference Monday of not doing their part to prevent the death of Sgt. Christopher Brewster, 32, who was fatally shot by Arturo Solis Saturday night. <br data-cke-eol="1"> (Houston Chronicle via AP)

Critics argued the bill would have done nothing to prevent Solis, whose girlfriend called police to report that he had been assaulting her, from killing Brewster.

In 2015, Solis pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor domestic violence charge for hitting his then-girlfriend. As a result, he should not have been able to own a gun for five years under Texas law, said David Kwok, an associate law professor at the University of Houston Law Center.

Acevedo nonetheless continued to point the finger at the state’s Republican leadership during Monday’s press conference.

“I don’t want to see their little smug faces about how much they care about law enforcement when I’m burying a sergeant because they don’t want to piss off the NRA.”

He continued: “Who are you coming to work for and don’t tell me Senator, with all due respect, it’s about the impeachment because you brag every day, you and Mitch McConnell, about getting judges confirmed. You brag about every piece of legislation you care about. Start caring about cops, children and women and everyday gun violence.”

"All of Texas is mourning Sgt. Brewster, grieving with his family, and celebrating his heroic service keeping us safe,” Sen. Ted Cruz responded in a statement. “It's unfortunate the chief of police in Houston seems more focused on trying to advance his own political ambitions than on supporting the brave men and women of HPD. The fact is that this killer was a criminal whom federal law already prohibited from having a gun. Instead of playing politics with tragedy, Congress should take up and pass the Grassley-Cruz legislation, which has bipartisan support, to strengthen the background check system, put violent felons in jail, and get guns out of the hands of criminals.”

Sen. John Cornyn's office also noted that the “loophole” didn't apply because Solis already had been prohibited from owning a gun.

Joe Gamaldi, president of the Houston Police Officers Union, said in a letter obtained by KTRK that the chief owes the public an apology for using the tragedy to make a “political statement.”

"The fact that Chief Acevedo chose that moment to make a political statement on guns is nothing short of offensive and inappropriate,” he said in the letter.

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Brewster graduated from the police academy in 2010 and is survived by his wife, parents and sisters. He was promoted to sergeant in February.

The Associated Press contributed to this report