It’s the first time the city’s new body camera release policy has been tested.
The Houston Police Department has released body camera footage of a recent deadly police shooting in southwest Houston.
It’s the first time the city’s new body camera footage, which requires HPD to release video of police shootings or killings within 30 days, has been tested.
The shooting happened last month, in the early morning hours of May 21. The body camera footage shows 25-year-old Zaekwon Gullate approach four Houston police officers while they’re conducting a seemingly unrelated traffic stop on Bissonnet Street.
Gullate can be heard telling the officers to shoot him, to which an officer replies, “shoot you?” The officers then ask Gullate to take his hands out of his pockets. After several seconds, the cops aim their guns at the man, telling him to “put the gun down.”
Gullate then appears to draw a gun from his pocket. Police say he fired at least one shot towards the officers, before multiple shots ring out in rapid succession.
The eight-minute long video was shown at an HPD media briefing Thursday, where Mayor Sylvester Turner said the release of the video, along with more than six hours of footage from the perspective of eight different officers, is proof that the city is keeping its promise to adhere to newly enacted police reforms.
“We said that we would put forth these reforms, we would make these reforms, and move forward and especially as it relates to transparency and this is another step,” Turner said. “It’s about establishing the trust between the community and our police officers.”
The new body camera policy is among several that were promised in April after the mayor’s police reform task force recommended over 100 reforms to HPD last year.
Turner said over half of those recommendations were enacted, including an overhaul of the Independent Police Oversight Board, a ban on no-knock warrants for non-violent offenses, and the creation of a new online dashboard that allows citizens to file anonymous complaints against officers.
The four officers that were involved in the shooting are currently on administrative duty, according to HPD Chief Troy Finner. He said a joint investigation into the shooting is being conducted by HPD’s special investigative unit and internal affairs division, along with the Harris County DA’s Office.
“If the police officers are wrong, they’re wrong. If the citizen is wrong, they’re wrong,” he said. “The sanctity of life is the most important thing.”