A rally cry meant to prevent more deaths at the hands of police might not be a strong enough sentiment to keep unfortunate occurrences from happening. During the first few weeks of summer, the United States has been embroiled with cases of questionable force being used on members of the African American community. Successive days saw video footage of the deaths of two people at the hands of civil servants in Louisiana and Minnesota. This has resulted in the escalation of tensions to the point where the Black Lives movement reiterating the hashtag of #HandsUpDontShoot as a means of diffusing the situation without fatalities. Unfortunately, this did not appear to help Alva Braziel in the wee hours of the morning as seen in video footage from the Houston area.
To comprehend the inherent tension in this situation, we have to look at the contributing factors to the mindsets of all parties involved. Law enforcement in the state of Texas have been on heightened alert since the July 7th hostilities from Micah Johnson that saw five men in blue die with several more wounded. Johnson almost certainly had in his mind the recent deaths of Alton Sterling and Philando Castle as a contributing factor for his rampage on police in Dallas. Powerful emotions like grief and anger have been rippling through police department all over the nation and especially in Texas. So when the authorities received a call about a man brandishing and waving a firearm, they were inclined not to take many chances.
Wandering down the road near the midnight hour is not a recipe for safety but it should not be equated to a lethal circumstance. Alva Braziel can be seen from independent security camera footage in his confrontation with police. Spotlight hits him to clearly illuminate to the officers his presence. This results in Mr. Braziel in placing his hands up. He spins around to try and demonstrate that he is not a threat. Tense moments ensue culminating in a hail of gunfire that would take his life. The time frame from when the vehicle stops to the fatality is not instantaneous but is very rapid to many who ascertain that the police officer never really gave the accused a chance of accepting his surrender.
The police side of events tell a different tale. They paint a picture where they confronted the suspect, ordered him to drop his weapon, and when he pointed it at them only then did they use lethal force. That Texas has an open carry policy when it comes to guns was not commented upon from the men of blue as potentially being a factor in their decision. Officers did report that a weapon was recovered from this scene.
More evidence could be coming in from this case. Was there dash or body camera footage that was recoverable from this incident? How could the police’s story mesh up with security camera footage that seems to portray this playing out over the course of mere seconds? An unfortunate another example of a life wasted that could have been saved through non lethal force. This is another tragedy that is piling up in a summer of violence for the year 2016 in the United States.