• Joaquín Chavez wants the body cam videos on his son's death at the hands of cops released
  • Nicolas Chavez was allegedly shot "execution style" by cops in the Houston Police Department
  • Chief Art Acevedo said the bodycam videos will be released after the investigation

The father of Nicolas Chavez, who was killed by officers of the Houston Police Department (HPD) on April 21, is calling for the release of the body camera videos of the shooting.

Joaquín Chavez, 51, said that he needs to know the truth about what happened to his 27-year-old son after he was arrested for potentially endangering himself and other people.

Nicolas was allegedly skimming through traffic on the night of his arrest while holding a rebar. The police said that Nicolas charged at them and took one of their stun guns when they arrived at the scene, so they "discharged their duty weapons" and accosted Nicolas with deadly force.

The younger Chavez was known to be struggling with drug addiction and had a history of mental illness, as confirmed by his wife, Jessica Chavez. His death, which happened in the first few weeks of the coronavirus lockdown and received little media attention, is back in the headlines amid the protests against police brutality and accountability following George Floyd's death while in the custody of the Minneapolis police.

Nearly two months later, Joaquin learned that a cellphone video of his son's killing was posted on YouTube. He watched the short clip and determined that Nicolas was shot execution-style by five police officers.

"That's what they did, and that's the part I don't understand," Joaquin said, per NBC News. "He was on his knees, already wounded. He wasn't a threat to anybody at that point," adding that the "truth is in the video, and it needs to be released."

"It was an execution," he said.

The HPD has placed the officers involved in Nicolas' death under administrative leave while the case is under investigation with the HPD Special Investigations Unit, the Internal Affairs Division and the Harris County District Attorney's Office. However, the HPD is still refusing to publicize the body cam videos of the 15-minute encounter with Nicolas, raising speculation about the policies and the leadership in the HPD.

The Houston Police Department has not released the body cam video of Nicolas Chavez's death. Wikimedia Commons

Cameras worn by officers are supposed to help improve police accountability. Despite the investment in and widespread use of this technology in many police departments, bodycam videos are primarily used by prosecutors to build a case against those arrested, according to Brooklyn College sociology professor Alex Vitale.

On Friday (June 19), protesters marched in downtown Houston to demand the release of the body cam videos in support of the Chavez family's call.

"Nicolas Chavez was shot on his knees, as he had been incapacitated. They shot 30 rounds of lead into him,” League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) Director Agustine Pinedo said. “This, to us, is murder. This is murder because he was not a threat to them."

Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo said that he agrees that the videos must be released for the sake of transparency but only after completing the investigation. He said that the videos making the rounds on social media is but a part of the whole story.

"It’s difficult to watch and it’s something that will raise questions for us just like any use of deadly force," he said.

Acevedo also hopes that the state's legislative body would have "better-defined rules of engagement" for body-worn camera technology.