HOUSTON – Tensions continue to remain high in the community nearly two weeks after police fatally shot an armed black man who was standing in the middle of a southeast Houston street on July 9. While police felt they had no choice but to open fire, some witnesses and the family of Alva Braziel say he did not have to die.
Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner and Acting Houston Police Chief Martha Montalvo released HPD bodycam and surveillance videos of the shooting on Thursday. The video was released after Braziel’s family viewed it, and gave permission to share it with the public.
“I am taking this particular step to produce all of the videos that we have in our possession so the people can see that we are being very transparent and, quite frankly, I don’t want any police officers shot at or killed, and the community and the police must work hand in hand together,” Turner said.
“With things that are happening all over the country right now and with the level of uneasiness and tension in the air. I thought it was in everyone’s best interest and the best interest of the security of this city to make this footage available.,” Turner said. “Especially with what was being put out online, that Mr. Braziel had his arms up, unarmed, and was shot by police. That narrative is untrue.”
Turner says the Houston community and police are not on opposite teams and this shooting, while tragic, happened because of Braziel’s actions.
“I can’t make up the facts. The facts are what they are. The reality is that this was not a case of an unarmed person that was shot down by the police,” he said. “I think most will agree that if you are holding up a gun at 12:38 in the middle of Cullen Street, and if you turn around and you point it, the results are not going to be good.”
The video of the shooting is not at a close distance, but the bodycam video showing the aftermath is extremely graphic.
[After accessing the video, you will be asked to confirm that you are aware that it is graphic before viewing.]
Surveillance video from a nearby gas station shows Braziel walking in the street, then stopping, and an HPD squad car pulling up in front of him. Less than 10 seconds after police arrived, Braziel drops to the ground. He had been shot multiple times.
After the shooting, A man who appeared to be a friend of Braziel can be seen falling to the ground, visibly upset, and punching a gas pump.
Another man can be heard yelling for Braziel to get up, and telling officers that he was a friend.
“Man, bro. Y’all killed him. Get up bro!” the witness said.
“Do you know him?” an officer asked, while also warning the witness to get back.
“Yes, that’s my homeboy,” the witness replied.
The officers then spoke to each other as a crowd gathered.
“Hey, just make sure nobody else runs up with no pistols or nothing man,” one officer said. “There’s a lot of people out here on every corner. Watch your back.”
The officers radioed for assistance with crowd control and requested an ambulance.
More police arrived and secured the area, and one of the officers who shot Braziel told another officer his version of what happened.
“At first I thought he [Braziel] was just trying to flag us down to give a report or something, and he’s just in the middle of the street pointing a gun at us,” the officer said. “We come to a stop and he comes over and he points a gun at us.”
The officers were then advised to immediately call the union.
Braziel’s family is devastated.
“I feel sad, I’m hurt, I’m depressed. Yes we are suffering as a family, but I really feel bad for his mother. I put myself in her shoes, what if it was my child? I’m horrified,” said his cousin, Tamika Stepherson.
While it is unclear to some why Braziel was standing in the middle of the street, Stepherson said it was not to cause trouble.
“I believe his horse was stolen and he was going to go look for his horse, he loved his horse, and that’s the reason that he was out there. Otherwise, he would have been at home,” she said.
Stepherson said she has not seen the video, but others have described it to her. She does not want to ruin her last memories of Braziel.
“I just want to remember him how he was; fun, outgoing and a good father to his children,” she said. “Lord have mercy. It’s crazy.”
After the news conference Thursday, Braziel’s wife addressed the media.
“All I want is justice. Justice, because you shoot somebody like this and then you really don’t have no explanation of why y’all did it,” Nikki Braziel said. “Do something with these laws. Who’s going to be the next victim out here on these streets?”
She disagrees with what Turner and law enforcement are saying.
“The video did not show Mr. Braziel waving a gun, pointing a gun. What it showed was the officer getting out shooting him. He fell,” she said. “The second thing y’all hear is the dude on the side saying ‘Why is y’all shooting him? What is wrong with y’all? He ain’t done nothing. Then you hear the law shoot him again and my husband say ‘Help,’ and turned around and went back and shot him again.”
Nikki Braziel acknowledged her husband had a gun, but was adamant that his hands were in the air. The couple has nine children collectively, and Nikki Braziel said he was a good man.
“That man loved horses, he loved to go to church, he loved to fix cars, he was a husband, he was a daddy, he was a son, he was a grandson and he lost his life. For what? He was looking for his horse,” she said.