Houston police cautioned to add armor after sergeant's death

Houston police cautioned to add armor after sergeant's death
In this Monday, Dec. 9, 2019 photo, Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo speaks to the media before officers from the Houston Police Department escort the body of Sgt. Christopher Brewster out of the Harris County Institute of Forensic Sciences building in Houston. During the a news conference Acevedo called on GOP U.S. senators, including John Cornyn from Texas, to renew the Violence Against Women Act. (Mulligan/Houston Chronicle via AP)

HOUSTON (AP) — Houston’s police chief has urged his officers to wear more body armor on patrol, days after a police sergeant was fatally shot and his bulletproof vest failed to protect him.

On Tuesday, Police Chief Art Acevedo warned officers to equip themselves with heavy vests over the soft armor designed to block ammunition from most handguns and shotguns, the Houston Chronicle reported. Acevedo noted that Sgt. Christopher Brewster only wore the soft armor on the night he died.

“The collective safety of the men and women we lead is of utmost concern,” Acevedo said in a memo to officers.

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.

Brewster’s armor “was potentially penetrated by one or more” bullets, Acevedo noted in the memo on Monday. Investigators are trying to figure out if Solis used armor-piercing bullets or if the officer’s vest was faulty, he said.

“We have concerns about two to three potential defects, in terms of penetration,” he 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 visitation for Brewster will take place Wednesday in Houston. A public funeral is slated for Thursday.