Houston Police Officer J. Goff, an officer with less than two years on the force, shot and killed a 30-year-old man only after the man advanced on him and reached for his weapon, Chief Art Acevedo said at a Friday press conference.
The 30-year-old man, whose name has yet to be released by the Harris County Medical Examiner's Office, was armed with what was later determined to be a Daisy Powerline 340 Air Pistol BB gun Acevedo said. The shooting occurred around 6:30 p.m. Thursday n the 7400 block of Scott in south Houston and sparked two calls to the HPD dispatch office, both of which Acevedo played at his press conference.
Acevedo said the man had a criminal history but declined to divulge further details, saying that had nothing to do with the "objectively reasonableness" use of force in this case. [According to the U.S. Supreme Court, objective reasonableness refers to an officer relying on the facts and circumstances at hand, without regard to “underlying intent or motivation.”]
Saying he couldn't speak to the man's mindset, Acevedo reported the man told the officer several times "I'm going home," perhaps indicating that he was trying to force the situation to its deadly end.
This spring, Houston has seen an increase in shootings and murders overall. In a press conference May 11 for the HPD officer-involved shooting of Nicholas Chavez, Acevedo attributed the reasons to a limited supply of drugs and money, both tight since the COVID-19 lockdown.
In this latest incident, the first 911 call recording was a bystander reporting a man with a gun in his hand wearing a grey hoodie outside of Popeyes walking toward a bus stop.
Before playing the second 911 dispatch recording, Acevedo, who noted that both the officer and the man he shot were African American, stated, “This is not an us versus them police department, this is a police department that tries to be appropriate…that wants to be as transparent as possible and a police department that is a proud of their relationship with their community.”
Acevedo referred to his Thursday press conference and a claim that a witness saw the suspect in that incident shot with his hands in the air. “We know that is a lie because we have everything on video,” Acevedo said.
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The second recording in relation to the Scott Street incident was that of a 53-year-old woman and her friend in a car, who said they were fearful for the lone officer’s safety, and who witnessed him discharging his service pistol after several attempts to verbally subdue the suspect.
“When there is an officer involved shooting, too often we look at things through the prism of emotion, the prism of history, through the prism of whatever our notion is of what’s going on in the world and not through the prism of the facts, the evidence, and what’s going on.
‘We want to remind the community this police department is here made up and reflective of this community. We are the nation’s most diverse community. And I’m proud of the fact that I get the privilege of leading and serving with these men and women in a department that is reflective of this community … We are a homegrown department."
An investigation continues through the HPD Special Investigations Unit, internal affairs, and the Harris County District Attorney’s office. Acevedo said because it is still under investigation the body cam video will not be released. He said the deceased man's common law wife had an appointment to view the footage Friday, and that she had to cancel.