“Ideally you want people to be objective and see it from all sides,” Police Chief Troy Finner said. “Its always so tragic for everybody involved regardless of what happens.”
The videos, collected from four police officers, show officers shooting a man in his 20s, Zaekown Gullate, at the 9400 Block of Bissonnet Street on May 21. The officer had been conducting a traffic stop when Gullate walked across the street and approached them and said, “Just shoot me.” After repeated requests to withdraw his hands from his pockets, Gullate eventually pointed a gun at the officers and shot at least one time. Three of the officers fired back.
Finner said an investigation into the incident is ongoing, and both he and Mayor Sylvester Turner would not comment on the officers’ conduct. The four officers are currently on administrative leave, which includes pay, and is standard after “critical incidents” such as police shootings.
“It’s important for us to be transparent. When information is not available, people assume there is something wrong,” Turner said. “It’s about establishing the trust between the police officers and the community.”
Turner’s task force on police reform pushed for the policy because HPD did not previously have a standard in place for releasing body camera footage. The reform does not, however, apply to police shootings that took place prior to April 29, the date the policy officially took effect.
Finner assumed his role in April after the former Police Chief Art Acevedo left for a position in Miami. Finner has said he supports the release of body camera footage since the outset of his role as Chief.
“If the police officer is wrong, they’re wrong, if the citizen is wrong, they are wrong,” Finner said. “We are going to call it like we see it.”