HOUSTON – Alfredo Gonzales Garza’s family are outraged after reviewing CCTV footage showing what led to his death.
Surveillance video from nearby businesses shows the interaction between the officer, identified as I. Garcia, and Garza. He can be seen walking away and sometimes towards the officer.
Police say Garza was armed with a knife, while also holding the flagpole and walking toward Officer Garcia. HPD says that after Garza received verbal orders to drop the knife, Officer Garcia shot Garza in the chest.
“What was shown in this video leaves us with more questions than answers,” says FIEL Director Cesar Espinosa. “We’re here today to make sure their voices are heard.”
Garza’s relatives held a press conference with FIEL, the immigrant-led civil rights organization, on Wednesday. Espinosa says Garza was staying with relatives and they were looking for him prior to the shooting.
“We are dealing with another incident where instead of this person getting the help they needed, they sadly died prematurely due to the circumstances they faced,” says Espinosa.
Only after the shooting did the officer turn on his body camera. You can see Garcia assisting Garza in the HPD-released video, but not the moments leading up to the fatal shot.
“We don’t understand why Officer Garcia didn’t turn it on before he got out of his vehicle,” Espinosa says.
Garza’s mother held back tears as she shared her son’s mental health history. He was diagnosed with bipolar disorder three years ago and was only hospitalized in September.
“He was hurt physically and psychologically by many people because he had a mental illness,” says Minerva Garza. “I sought help for him. The system failed me. They told me that the only way to detain him for a long time was for him to commit a crime and the police would force him to go to an institution for mental health care.”
HPD says the shooting is being investigated by their Special Investigations Unit, Internal Affairs and the Harris County District attorney.