Alva Braziel had PCP, other drugs in system when fatally shot, autopsy shows

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A 38-year-old man fatally shot last year by two Houston police officers had a bag of pills and PCP, methamphetamine and marijuana in his system, according to the autopsy released late Thursday.

The disclosure came a day after Alva Braziel’s widow and a dozen others protested the Harris County District Attorney’s Office demanding the release of the autopsy and other investigative materials connected to the July 9, 2016 shooting.

Nikki Braziel said late Thursday that traces of drugs in her husband’s system are no excuse for a fatal shooting.

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“I wouldn’t care what he was on, they didn’t have to shoot him 16 times,” she said. “He turned around and around and around to let them know that he wasn’t going to harm them.”

Nikki Braziel and others have demanded to know what grand jurors were told before they decided last week to clear the two officers of any wrongdoing in the fatal shooting.

The autopsy and toxicology report, obtained by the Houston Chronicle late Thursday nearly a year after first requesting it, confirmed that Braziel tested positive for drugs and a body cavity search found a bag of pills.

Nikki Braziel said her husband smoked marijuana and may have used drugs days earlier, but when he was shot in the street at the intersection of Cullen and Ward after midnight, he had only been awake about an hour and was looking for a lost horse.

“He had just woken up,” she said. She said police told her there was a bag of Ecstasy pills laying on the ground next to him.

She said he had gone to a party six days before the shooting and may have taken drugs then.

The shooting last summer drew comparison to other police shootings around the country, prompting Mayor Sylvester Turner to release video from body cameras and a nearby surveillance camera.

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The surveillance cameras show Alva Braziel from afar, with his hands in the air as the police car approaches. The officers turned on their body cameras after the gunshots had stopped, and the video shows Braziel’s lifeless body with a gun in his hand.

In notes attached the autopsy, investigators said the .38 revolver Braziel had two spent casings, although it was unclear when he had fired the gun.

“The officers were able to exit the vehicle and the decedent again lowered his weapon, pointing at the officers who then began to fire,” according to the report. “The officers fired 7 times each. 2 rounds were fired by the decedent but the timing is unknown.”

The officers indicated in official statements that Braziel pointed a gun at them but did not shoot. They can be heard on video saying they thought he was waving them down until they saw the gun.

On Thursday, Nikki Braziel was incredulous that the autopsy had been released before she had seen it.

“That’s not right,” she said. “I don’t think they should have released the autopsy to y’all.”

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