Late Thursday evening, the Houston Police Department released bodycam footage of their violent gunfire, which left 27-year-old Charion Lockett dead in the hallway of his home on Feb. 7. But his family and attorneys are saying his death was preventable, and Lockett was ambushed.
According to footage released, nine officers in mostly unmarked cars and wearing plain clothes traveled to Lockett’s home in the 800 block of Oak West Drive at 10:45 a.m. to find him sitting in his driveway.
Authorities say the Houston Police’s North Belt Crime Suppression team was attempting to serve Lockett an arrest warrant for an aggravated robbery charge. In an unmarked red Lincoln, the footage shows Officer Devin Inocencio in the passenger seat and Officer Victor Villareal in the driver’s seat speeding up to Lockett’s home.
Officer Inocnecio shouts, “He’s getting out! He’s getting out!” while opening the passenger door, holding his weapon visibly outside of the vehicle. The officer is seen holding the gun outside the car with two hands when the first shot goes off.
Still seated, Inocencio moves his body back into the car before opening fire toward the house in the moving unmarked vehicle. At that point, three other officers, Peter Carroll, Shaun Houlihan, and Villareal, open fire as well, all pointed toward the home.
“I got him. I got him,” Inocencio says about Lockett, who collapses in the entryway of the home. In addition to bodycam footage, HPD Assistant Chief Belinda Null noted that four minutes went by before officers administered aid to Lockett, who was announced deceased at the scene.
According to the Harris County Medical Examiners’ Office, Lockett’s death was caused by “multiple penetrating gunshot wounds of the torso with perforations of the lung, subclavian vein, and spinal cord.”
Police say Lockett shot the initial gunfire to start the seven-second exchange. Still, family attorney Taft Foley said Lockett never shoots a weapon or brandishes a gun in the footage. At the same time, Lockett was a licensed gun owner, and footage shows the police picking up a weapon close to his body before administering aid.
Notably, none of the officers announced their presence before, during, or after the fatal shooting. According to Foley, Lockett spoke with officers on the phone about the charges an hour before his death and was ready to turn himself in.
“He’s a little shaken up. He goes and sits in his car, which according to mom, is what he does on a regular basis. He sits in his car, and he meditates, and he prays,” Foley said in an interview with the Associated Press.
Lockett’s family and attorneys are also questioning the validity of the charges since Lockett had no prior criminal record and a judge initially denied the department’s arrest warrant request.
Over 300 protestors gathered outside the Houston Police headquarters on Thursday to walk the streets in solidarity with Lockett and pressure authorities. According to reports, Foley added that a federal lawsuit would be filed against the department highlighting the department’s poor training.
“Justice will be served,” Foley said. “To highlight the fact that these incidents occur far too often.”
Nevertheless, another young Black man is dead at the hands of the police. And his loved ones will never get to see him again. And he will never get to live out his dreams.
Just a few words Lockett’s loved ones used to describe him were “inspiring, loving, funny, and ambitious.”
The Signal spoke with Lockett’s cousin Jada who described him as the jokester of the family and always had everyone laughing. So justice for her looks like Lockett having his day in court to see what happened. “At the end of the day, innocent until proven guilty,” she added.
“We need to figure out what happened, why it happened, and why was there so much excessive force to somebody who has never been in trouble with the law,” she said. “He loved everybody. Everybody he approached he showed love to.”
Echoing Jada’s loving sentiment, the Signal also spoke with Lockett’s childhood friend Blake Hewitt who highlighted his friend’s accomplishment of being one of the first in his family to graduate from college.
“He was a great friend,” Hewitt said. “He was a great mentor. Definitely one of the people who wanted to make it out of the hood. He always strived to be better and wanted to be better. One of a kind.”
According to his mother, Shanetta Guidry-Lewis, Lockett was in the process of studying for the LSAT exam and had aspirations of becoming a lawyer. In 2020, Lockett obtained a master’s degree and bachelor’s degree in criminal justice.
“As I continue to write my story, we all experience hardship & trauma in life, but your fight inside & faith will seek you through,” Lockett wrote in an Instagram post. “I take pride in being a First Generational Graduate in High School, Undergrad & Graduate School. Recreating the narrative for the next generations to come. To be continued….”
The Signal reached out to HPD for comment but has yet to hear back.
Kennedy is a recent graduate of the University of St.Thomas in Houston where she served as Editor-in-Chief of the Celt Independent. Kennedy brings her experience of writing about social justice issues to the Texas Signal where she serves as our Political Reporter. She does everything from covering crime beats, Texas politics, and community activism. Kennedy is a passionate reporter, avid reader, coffee enthusiast, and loves to travel.