HOUSTON, Texas – Two Houston police officers shot a man they believed was reaching for a gun in his waistband. The gun turned out to be a pellet gun that closely resembles a semi-automatic pistol.
Two Houston police officers responded to a call of a man brandishing a gun near St. Thomas University. When police arrived, they found a white man standing against a fence with a gun tucked in his pants, The Houston Chronicle reported.
Police spokesman John Cannon told the paper that the first officer on the scene began talking to the suspect who refused to “engage in conversation.” When the officer observed the gun in his pants he told the suspect to show his hands.
A second officer arrived on the scene and also attempted to talk with the suspect who remained unresponsive to questions and commands.
After an undisclosed period of time, the suspect allegedly reached for the gun tucked in his pants. Both of the officers fired on the suspect, striking him multiple times. The suspect was transported to Ben Taub Hospital where he was listed as being in critical, but stable, condition.
KTRK ABC13’s Christine Dobbyn reported that one witness heard five gunshots.
— Christine Dobbyn (@ChristineDobbyn) July 25, 2016
Cannon told the reporters the gun was very realistic looking and showed the weapon to them. “Most of the public will look around and say he got shot over a toy gun,” Cannon told Dobbyn. “I think after they take a look at it and everyone takes a look at it they’ll understand what these officers are up against.” The gun did not have an orange tip that is often put on toy guns to help police distinguish them from real weapons.
Cannon also said police are investigating an incident from earlier in the afternoon on Sunday when a man reportedly walked out of a convenience store with a drink he had not paid for. When the clerk confronted that suspect he pulled up his shirt and pulled out a gun. That case is being reviewed to see if it is the same person.
The shooting of this armed white suspect comes one week after the shooting of an armed black man who was standing in the middle of the street waiving a gun. When he pointed the gun at Houston police officers, they opened fire and shot him multiple times. That suspect was identified as Alva Braziel.
Robert Muhammad, a black Houston activist and mosque leader, told the Houston Chronicle he is concerned about all police shootings, regardless of race. “We want everyone treated equally under the law,” he told Kriel. “We’ll be looking at all of (the shootings,) where it takes place, regardless what the ethnicity and the color of the person was. We want to look at all of them and see if there is a need for systemic change in police policy and community engagement.”
He also said there is a perception in the black community that they are treated differently.
“This must be addressed in order to improve police community relations, not only our perception, but the reality of the outcomes of police citizens and black citizens encounters,” Muhammad explained. He said it did not matter that this shooting victim was white and said that all police shootings should be scrutinized.
Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner released police body cam videos showing the immediate aftermath of the shooting of Braziel. While the video from the body cameras did not start until just after the shooting, both officers can be heard saying the suspect pointed his handgun at them and they were afraid he would shoot them.
In this latest shooting, both officers were wearing body cameras, but it was not disclosed if they had been turned on before the shooting or not. Officers are not required by Houston police policy to turn on the camera if they believe they are immediately in danger when they arrive on the scene. They are directed to turn the camera on at the first opportunity when it is safe to do so. Neither police vehicle was equipped with a dash cam. Cannon told reporters only about 200 HPD vehicles are so equipped.
Jermaine Rogers, a man who heard the shots being fired at the suspect, told Dobbyn, “The climate in the air is hot,” he said. “People are on edge. But, it’s up to those of us who can do it to keep rational, keep a level head.”