Bayou City

Houston Officers Cleared in Fatal Shooting of Alva Braziel Last Summer

The moment just after a Houston police officer shot Alva Braziel
The moment just after a Houston police officer shot Alva Braziel Courtesy of Houston Police Department
The Houston police officers involved in the fatal shooting of Alva Braziel last summer have been cleared of wrongdoing after a Harris County grand jury declined to indict them Thursday.

Braziel was gunned down in the middle of Cullen Boulevard last July, following an encounter with police that lasted about ten seconds. Braziel, who held a gun, was reportedly walking around looking for a lost horse at the time police were driving along Cullen and spotted him. Officers had claimed they believed Braziel was flagging them down, until they saw the gun — they then claimed they gave him verbal commands, and shot him when he ignored them and apparently pointed the gun at them.

The shooting took place two days after a gunman killed five police officers in Dallas.

Mayor Sylvester Turner released body camera video footage of the shooting — but the clip begins only after an officer shoots Braziel. A nearby surveillance video was too grainy to show whether Braziel really pointed the gun at police or whether his arms were straight up in the air. And so protests continued, as activists and Braziel's family demanded that the officers be punished for killing Braziel, as they believed he simply had his hands up at the time he was killed.

Thursday marked the second time a grand jury declined to indict the police officers in his death. Braziel's family had requested a second grand jury, saying they were unaware of the proceedings the first time and had hoped to present possible additional evidence.

“Grand juries comprised of citizens review all police shootings,” Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg said in a statement. “This enables the community, not prosecutors or police, to ultimately determine whether a person should be indicted. It is our duty to be transparent and ensure that grand jurors have the opportunity to make informed decisions on whether a crime has been committed. These decisions can impact people’s lives forever.”
KEEP THE HOUSTON PRESS FREE... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Meagan Flynn is a staff writer at the Houston Press who, despite covering criminal justice and other political squabbles in Harris County, drinks only one small cup of coffee per day.
Contact: Meagan Flynn