Over the course of the last week, there have been a number of high-profile deaths that have seized the national consciousness ― the harrowing Dallas police ambush on Thursday night, and the killings of Alton Sterling in Louisiana and Philando Castile in Minnesota in the days prior. Both Sterling and Castile were black, and were fatally shot by police officers under circumstances that have since drawn heavy scrutiny. And now there's another name to add to the list. The police shooting of Alva Braziel has begun to spark a similar outcry.
Braziel, 38, was reportedly shot 10 times and killed by members of the Houston Police Department Saturday night. While the department has said that the investigation is still in its "early stages," police claim Braziel was armed with a gun, pointed it at officers, and ignored commands to drop it, prompting them to fire in self-defense. Acting Police Chief Martha I. Montalvo said in a statement sent to Bustle:
The investigation into Saturday’s officer-involved shooting incident is still in its early stages and very active. As we have stated, a male armed with a gun pointed the gun at our officers and two officers discharged their weapons to protect their lives. Early indications are the armed male might have been under the influence of a narcotic, refused all officers' commands to drop his gun and instead pointed the gun at officers. We extend condolences to the man's family and regret his loss of life. We appreciate everyone understanding the early facts of the case and know our officers were protecting their lives and our neighborhoods.
Video has since come out which has raised serious concerns from some anti-police-brutality and racial justice activists. Surveillance footage taken from a nearby gas station (which began to circulate on social media following the shooting) reportedly appears to show Braziel raise his arms in the air and perform a 360-degree rotation moments before being shot. It's important to note that the video is taken from a long distance, and at points is very unclear.
Given the recent prevalence of videos of fatal police shootings and the sort of repetitive trauma that many have spoken of, the video won't be embedded here. You can watch it through this link, if you so desire.
The officers on the scene reportedly had their body cameras turned on, but the footage hasn't been publicly released. Whatever ambiguity might exist in the long-distance surveillance footage would surely be reduced from the vantage point of the officers, and that's why releasing the body camera footage has become one of the key demands from activists over the case. Black Lives Matter Houston has called for any other available footage of Alva Braziel's shooting to be released, and and presumably, for whatever it shows to be held up against prior statements by law enforcement.
On Monday, Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner requested that the department release the footage, though when exactly that would happen is yet unclear. If it ultimately is and the video contradicts the official story, you can bet you're going to hear a lot more about this.