A former Houston police officer accused of telling his colleague to shoot an unarmed suspect fleeing a traffic stop and repeatedly beating the person with a pair of handcuffs is dealing with felony prices.
Lucas Vieira, who was fired from the power on April 16, was indicted by a Harris County grand jury on Friday for aggravated assault in reference to the July 7, 2019, traffic stop of 34-year-old Aundre Howard, who’s Black.
The indictment comes three months after Howard filed an extreme power lawsuit in opposition to the three officers concerned in his “humiliation” after, he says, he was pulled over with a pal for expired automobile registration. In the course of the incident, additionally captured on police body-cam footage, Howard was handcuffed and searched earlier than he started to flee, apparently in terror.
“Simply fucking shoot his ass,” Vieira, 31, is heard telling his colleague, officer Thomas Serrano, in body-camera footage, according to Howard’s legal team.
In line with the lawsuit filed by Howard, the demand scared him a lot he defecated on himself earlier than he was as soon as once more restrained and overwhelmed at the back of the pinnacle “at the least thrice” with handcuffs.
“The officers then put the handcuffed Mr. Howard on the bottom and pulled down his pants the place passersby might see Mr. Howard’s buttocks with the feces and genitals all of the whereas making enjoyable of Mr. Howard in regards to the defecation,” the lawsuit—which names town of Houston, Serrano, Nadeem Aslam, and Sgt Earl Attebury—claims.
The go well with alleges that the opposite officers watched Vieira degrade and abuse Howard, however did nothing to intervene within the incident that despatched him to the hospital. Howard was additionally initially charged with evading arrest and possessing a managed substance after the arrest, however the prices have been dismissed in January.
Serrano and Aslam proceed to be on responsibility whereas Attebury has since been relieved of responsibility by the division, a Houston Police Division spokesperson advised The Every day Beast. Acknowledging Vieira’s indictment, the spokesperson added that “we respect the grand jury’s determination.”
A spokesperson for the Harris County District Legal professional’s workplace advised The Every day Beast that the grand jury decided felony prices in opposition to Serrano weren’t warranted.
All the officers named within the lawsuit didn’t instantly reply to The Every day Beast’s request for remark. Howard’s authorized group additionally didn’t instantly reply to The Every day Beast’s request for remark. The town of Houston pointed to the assertion issued by its police division.
Howard’s arrest got here earlier than a protest wave over systemic racism in American policing, however the prices in opposition to Vieira book-end a collection of typically deadly site visitors stops involving unarmed folks of coloration that garnered nationwide consideration. In April, a white police officer within the Minneapolis suburb of Brooklyn Center fatally shot 20-year-old Daunte Wright, a Black man, apparently firing her service weapon by chance as a substitute of a Taser throughout the site visitors cease. This even because the felony trial in opposition to Derek Chauvin was poised to play out close by.
The July 2019 assault can be amongst a number of examples of alleged police brutality by the Houston Police Division since 1998, as detailed within the lawsuit. Among the many examples cited is the police killing of 27-year-old Nicholas Chavez, who was shot over 20 times in April 2020 during a mental-health crisis. 4 officers concerned in Chavez’s demise have been fired and his household has since gained a $100 million settlement from town.
Whereas Howard survived, the 34-year-old stated in an April information convention asserting the lawsuit that he was one of many fortunate ones.
“I’m grateful to be right here after I went by means of what I went by means of. Individuals [have] been going by means of it, so it’s nothing new to me. I’m not even shocked,” he stated.
The sentiment is grim, contemplating the allegations of humiliation and abuse lodged in opposition to Vieira and his colleagues in Howard’s lawsuit.
In line with Howard, the site visitors cease obtained ugly rapidly after Vieira commanded him to get out of the automobile and “instantly” put him in handcuffs whereas Serrano searched him for weapons.
“Whereas Serrano is about to placed on rubbers [sic] gloves for a physique cavity search a nonetheless handcuffed Mr. Howard runs from the scene and was simply caught inside a block by Officer Serrano. Later, Officer Serrano remarks, ‘He’s kinna gradual,’” the lawsuit states.
In the course of the transient chase, nevertheless, Vieira is heard within the body-camera footage telling Serrano twice to shoot Howard—and even shouted “BOP BOP BOP BOP,” in accordance with the lawsuit. After Howard was once more apprehended and overwhelmed, Viera made “quite a few threats and [referenced] his earlier beating of Mr. Howard” whereas two different officers stood by, the lawsuit states.
“He had his handcuffs round his fists, he punched me like 4 occasions at the back of the pinnacle. Then as he walked me off, he hit me on the facet of my head, leaving a scar. I needed to go to the hospital,” Howard stated throughout a November 2020 press convention. That’s when his authorized group launched a clip of the bodycam footage they obtained from the Houston Police Division, as Click2Houston reported.
Within the clip, Howard may also be heard pleading with police to cease smashing his head with handcuffs, yelling out “Alright bro! You bought it bro, you bought it bro!”
“I used to be scared, I didn’t know what was going to occur,” Howard stated.