HOUSTON (AP) — The family of a 27-year-old man who was shot and killed by Houston police as they attempted to serve him with an arrest warrant says the officers never identified themselves before they opened fire.
An attorney for Charion Lockett’s family said Friday that newly released police body camera footage of the Feb. 7 shooting supports their belief that Lockett feared for his life in the moments before he was killed.
“Why did they show up with guns out to his home without announcing themselves as police officers?” said Taft Foley, one of the attorneys. “It’s the reason why this case is a tragedy. It’s a tragedy because it could have been prevented.”
Police allege that Lockett, who was Black, was the aggressor.
“As officers approached the residence, Mr. Lockett was sitting inside his vehicle in the driveway. He stepped out and began firing upon officers as he moved towards his front door,” Assistant Chief Belinda Null said in a video statement that accompanied the body camera footage released Thursday.
But one of the Lockett family’s lawyers said none of the police video shows Lockett shooting. And the family said he didn’t have a criminal record, had earned a master’s degree and was studying to apply to law school.
“My son was a loving person. All he cared about was his family. He was the life of the party. He took care of everybody,” his mother, Shanetta Guidry-Lewis, said Thursday following a march to police headquarters by more than 300 protesters.
Police were attempting to arrest Lockett on a charge of aggravated robbery with a deadly weapon when they shot him. He was accused of trying to rob at gunpoint a man he knew from high school on Nov. 26. Foley said he questions the validity of the charge because his investigation revealed that a judge initially rejected the police department’s request for an arrest warrant.
Police declined to comment Friday, citing the ongoing investigation, which is being conducted by the Harris County Sheriff’s Office because the shooting took place outside of Houston’s city limits.
Foley said Lockett didn’t know there was a warrant for his arrest until he got a call from authorities at 9:30 a.m. on Feb. 7, about an hour before his death. He told authorities he wanted to call his attorney and turn himself in, Foley said.
“He’s a little shaken up. He goes and sits in his car, which according to mom is what he does on a regular basis. He sits in his car and he meditates and he prays,” Foley said.
Lockett was in his car when several police vehicles, most of them unmarked, rushed to his home.
In the body camera footage, one officer in an unmarked red car can be seen opening the passenger side door as his vehicle speeds up to Lockett’s home. The officer then raises his gun above the door as the car is still moving and at least one shot can be heard.
From the footage, it’s unclear who fired that initial shot. None of the footage showed Lockett firing at officers and no officers could be heard identifying themselves to Lockett before the shooting began.
After hearing the initial shot, the officer got down in his seat, then got up and started firing in the direction of the house while he was still in his car. The officer continued firing as his partner jumped out of the vehicle. The officer could be seen firing at someone in the front door before saying, “He’s down.”
In a news conference hours after the shooting, Police Chief Troy Finner said four officers returned fire and were placed on administrative leave.
Finner said the officers who tried to serve the warrant are part of a crime suppression team that is “instrumental in locating violent criminals in our city.”
“We always pray for the best, that no lives are lost. But we still have to do our jobs,” he said.
After the shooting, a neighbor could be heard on one of the body camera recordings telling an officer at the scene, “Hey man. He’s a good kid man. He’s a good kid. Please don’t shoot him.”
“Not one video shows Mr. Lockett shooting a gun or shooting anybody,” said Randall Kallinen, another attorney representing Lockett’s family.
Foley said that Lockett had a license to carry a concealed handgun and that officers should have been aware of that.
“The whole community is wondering why, why, why was this whole entire thing botched so horribly that it ended with the death of this kid, who’s a role model, who’s an example of what we want kids in our Black community to be,” Foley said.
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