HOUSTON -- The bullet-resistant vest worn by a Houston police sergeant who was fatally shot was not penetrated by bullets as initially thought, according to a Houston Police Department statement.
The initial belief that Sgt. Christopher Brewster's soft body armor failed had prompted Police Chief Art Acevedo on Tuesday to warn officers to equip themselves with heavy vests over the soft armor. But in a statement issued Wednesday night, Acevedo said further investigation showed the department's initial concern “are unfounded.”
Brewster, 32, was shot and killed on Saturday while responding to a domestic violence call in Magnolia Park. A dying Brewster still managed to radio in a description of the gunman, and police subsequently arrested 25-year-old Arturo Solis. He has been charged with capital murder of a police officer.
What Acevedo described as a “careful examination” of Brewster's vest Wednesday by forensics experts found that “the vest performed as expected and there was no vest failure." At least one round struck Brewster between his belt and the bottom of the vest, he said.
“We are relieved to have established that the concerns regarding a vest penetration have been addressed,” Acevedo said.
Joe Gamaldi, president of the Houston Police Officers' Union, said officer safety is a priority and encouraged all officers to wear both the armor and softer vest, despite the discomfort.
Court records show Solis had a prior family-violence conviction, which should have barred him from legally possessing a firearm.
On Monday, Acevedo called out GOP U.S. senators, including John Cornyn and Ted Cruz from Texas, for failing to close the so-called “boyfriend loophole” that can allow those with a history of dating violence to legally purchase firearms. He accused them of caving to opposition from the National Rifle Association by not voting to pass the House-approved reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act.
Cruz and Cornyn said the problem was more complex than that. The chief's comments also angered some rank-and-file officers, who accused him of politicizing Brewster’s death.
Acevedo defended his remarks, saying he was “not going to engage in a back and forth” with the senators, but also acknowledged that his emotions “got the best of (him),” adding: “I’m not sure that maybe it was not the time. But I had a lot of anger, and the anger is still here.”
A public funeral is slated for Thursday.