Body camera video released Wednesday shows a Houston Police Department officer firing two shots at a fleeing man despite no clear evidence presented to date that the suspect had a gun or posed an immediate threat of harm.

The new video, made public as part of HPD’s pledge to release body camera videos within 30 days of a police shooting, raises questions about whether Officer Gabriel Chapa violated department policy when he opened fire at Chad Michael Duhon on Aug. 17 in Kingwood. 

The shots missed, and officers arrested Duhon, 42, after a brief foot chase. HPD officials confirmed Wednesday to the Houston Landing that officers did not recover a gun belonging to Duhon at the scene.

The encounter between Chapa, who was hired by HPD in 2017, and Duhon, who had an open warrant related to a weapon possession charge in Louisiana, escalated quickly on a Thursday afternoon behind a shopping center.

According to court records, Chapa pulled over Duhon’s truck because of the Louisiana resident’s open warrant. The video shows Duhon fleeing in his truck once Chapa’s patrol vehicle comes to a stop.  

After a minute-long pursuit, Chapa and Duhon reached a dead end. The video shows Chapa opening his driver side door, shouting for Duhon to get on the ground and pointing his gun forward. Within two seconds, Chapa shot twice in quick succession at Duhon.

The door frame of Chapa’s vehicle obscures the sight of Duhon on the body camera at the moments that the officer opened fire. But as the second shot rings out, Duhon can be seen fleeing with his back turned to the officer.

A HPD press release issued after the shooting said Chapa believed Duhon was armed “due to (Chapa’s) actions.” However, the press release and available court records offer no details on what actions led Chapa to believe Duhon was armed.

Douglas Griffith, the president of Chapa’s police union, said Duhon ducked for cover behind the truck and had his hand at his waistband moments before the shooting. The video does not prove or disprove Griffith’s account.

HPD policy states that “firing at fleeing suspects who do not represent an imminent threat to the life of the officer or another person” is prohibited. Department officials, citing an ongoing internal investigation, declined to comment on whether the officer followed department policy when firing his weapon.

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The incident is under investigation by HPD’s Special Investigations Unit and Internal Affairs Division, according to the August press release. The District Attorney’s Office is awaiting HPD’s investigation before reviewing the shooting and turning over evidence to a grand jury.

HPD officials declined to comment on whether Chapa has been involved in any other on-duty shootings. Chapa’s personnel file shows two reprimands for violating department policy: one for crashing his patrol vehicle into another car after running a red light and one for losing a woman’s cellphone after leaving it on the top of his patrol car. 

Chapa and another officer arrested Duhon in a Taco Bell parking lot after a roughly minute-long foot pursuit. Chapa fired a stun gun at Duhon during the encounter when Duhon tried to stand up despite commands to lay down on his stomach.

Duhon, who has several prior felony and misdemeanor convictions, remains in the Harris County Jail following his arrest. A judge set his bail at $15,000.

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Eileen Grench covers public safety for the Houston Landing, where two of her primary areas of focus will be the Houston Police Department and Harris County Sheriff’s Office. She is returning to local...