Another day, another hashtag. That was the overwhelming and heartbreaking sentiment on Twitter Saturday morning as news emerged that another black man was shot by police. Early on Saturday morning, two Houston police officers shot and killed Alva Braziel on the south side of the city. Not unlike most officer-involved shootings, this has sparked intense reactions on social media, deepened even further by the peculiar circumstances surrounding Braziel's death.
Although #AlvaBraziel was trending on social media Saturday morning, there are few news reports on what happened around 12:40 a.m. According to ABC 13, a Houston ABC affiliate, two officers were patrolling the neighborhood when they allegedly spotted a man with a revolver in the middle of the road. The officers asked him to put the gun down, and he then reportedly pointed it in the air and then at the officers. Immediately after, the officers fired numerous shots at the man, who would later be identified by a woman claiming to be his wife as Alva Braziel. He died on the scene.
The two officers have been on the force for 10 and 13 years, respectively. Neither of the officers, whose names are currently unknown, were hurt during the encounter. According to ABC 13, the officers were wearing body cameras.
View image on Twitter
View image on Twitter
Jake Reiner @JakeKPRC2
This was the gun recovered at the police shooting this morning.@KPRC2
1:42 PM - 9 Jul 2016 · Houston, TX, United States
205 205 Retweets 281 281 likes
Perhaps it's the lack of information that has caused such division on social media, or perhaps it is the timing. This occurred just after terrible news in another Texas metro area, in which five officers were killed at a peaceful protest by what the police are saying is a sniper. That has undoubtedly stoked tensions.
Some social media users were unsympathetic to Braziel, saying that pointing a gun at the cops was a literal death wish. Others pointed out Texas' open carry laws — which allow those with permits to openly carry handguns — saying that they only seemed to work for white people. It is unclear if Braziel held such a permit.
We'll hopefully learn more about what happened to Braziel as details are developed and expanded. But Twitter users expressed frustration and uncertainty about the police account of the incident. Many social media users are reporting that Braziel was shot 10 times. That has not been confirmed, but if it's true, the number of shots fired by the two officers seems excessive in the goal of disarming a man. For now, all we know is that there was another life lost. Regardless of the specific circumstances, it is a tragedy.