For Jennifer Chavis, going to work was something she enjoyed. Her pleasant demeanor is just one of the many things her coworkers say they’ll miss. Chavis, a Harris County Precinct 7 deputy constable, was killed April 2 after a vehicle driven by a man accused of driving drunk slammed into the back of her patrol vehicle. The accident caused her car to go up in flames, killing the 32-year-old peace officer.
“It was just devastating,” Constable May Walker said. “She was a tremendous officer.”
A Liberty, Texas native, Chavis joined the U.S. Army after high school, and spent six years in uniform. She studied criminal justice at the University of Houston-Downtown, then received a master’s degree from Texas Southern University. She joined Precinct 7 in November 2020, and was soon assigned to patrol the toll roads in south Harris County, where she spent nights looking out for speeders and drunk drivers and investigating road rage shootings. And frequently, she’d show up hours early to help run patrols looking for motorists with fraudulent paper plates.
Chavis, the mother of a 4-year-old son, had aspirations to be an investigator.
The night she died, Chavis was in her vehicle to the side of the road, waiting for a reported drunk- to pass at the Beltway near Fondren. Chavis pulled over, waiting for the motorist to drive by. Instead, police say, 36-year-old Adolfo Serrano, veered out of his lane and slammed into her patrol vehicle, setting the car alight.
Other deputies rushed to the scene, spotting the smoke plume from miles away, but it was too late by the time they arrived.
Chavis died at the scene. She is survived by her husband, Quincey, and her son.
In a news release, Mayor Sylvester Turner urged motorists to be more careful on the roads.
“There are too many impaired drivers on our roads,” he said. “As a result, people are being seriously injured or killed. There is no excuse for endangering the lives of law enforcement and innocent motorists.”
Serrano is charged with felony intoxication manslaughter of a peace officer, with bond set at $750,000. Police said he’d crashed into a vehicle earlier in the day and fled, prompting motorists to call 911. He has previously been arrested for crimes including burglary, assault, drunk driving, and marijuana possession.
The killing has left Chavis’ relatives, and her coworkers, reeling. They grieved for a woman who was a mother, a sister, a daughter, and a friend, a woman who made the job a bit more pleasant and a bit kinder.
“Deputy Constable Jennifer Chavis paid the ultimate sacrifice,” said Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez. “It saddens me to know how her life was senselessly cut short.”