Lucas Vieira: HPD cop who told officer to shoot fleeing suspect indicted for aggravated assault
After suspect Andre Howard defecated himself in fear, Vieira and other officers pulled down his pants and mocked him
HOUSTON, TEXAS: A Houston police officer caught on camera asking another officer to shoot a suspect has been indicted for aggravated assault. The incident happened in 2019 when the indicted officer, identified as Lucas Vieira, asked his partner to shoot suspect Andre Howard, 34, for fleeing from a traffic stop. Bodycam video of the incident shows Vieira then beating the suspect on the back of his head with handcuffs.
Houston Police announced the news of Vieira's arrest on Sunday, July 11. Vieira was suspended from the force in April after an excessive force lawsuit was filed against him for the incident that took place on July 7, 2019.
News of this comes after the April 28 traffic stop shooting of Minneapolis man Daunte Wright, whom Brooklyn Center cop Kim Porter fatally shot, and later claimed she thought she was using her taser. The same month a New Mexico cop was gunned down with 'AR-15-style rifle' at a traffic stop.
And in more recent news, a Baltimore cop was arrested after his 15-year-old son's body was found in the loft wall of their home.
In Vieira's case, the alleged suspect was initially stopped by HPD for expired vehicle registration, said the victim's lawyer. Howard was "immediately handcuffed and searched for weapons but none were found," lawyer Randall Kallinen added.
Body camera footage capturing the chase shows Vieiria and his partner, identified as officer Thomas Serrano, chasing the handcuffed Howard as Vieira repeatedly yells, "Just f*****g shoot his a**!"
Kallinen claimed soon after Howard was handcuffed, the man was "frightened from some of the actions of officers." Court records detail Vieira repeatedly used handcuffs to beat the back of Howard's head after another cop caught up with the suspect and detained him. The lawsuit against Vieira also reveals that Howard was so terrified, he defecated on himself. The officers then pulled Howard's pants down in public and mocked him.
Howard, who got out alive, said in an April news conference that he was lucky to be alive. Speaking at the news conference held outside HPD headquarters, Howard said: "I'm thankful to be here after I went through what I went through. People (have) been going through it, so it's nothing new to me. I'm not even surprised." The lawsuit also accuses officers Serrano, Nadeem Aslam, and Sgt Earl Attebury for being present with Vieira, but failing to intervene in the attack. Serrano and Aslam continue to be on duty while Attebury has since been relieved.
The initial charges against Howard - felony evading arrest and possession of more than 4 grams of cocaine, have since been dismissed. Houston Police Chief Troy Finner, who was sworn in at the time of the indictment, said in a statement that Vieira had been "indefinitely suspended."
Tweeting via the HPD's official account, the statement reads: "We respect the grand jury's decision. The case is now in the hands of the court."
Vieira's actions is one of the dozens of examples the lawsuit cites alleging police brutality by HPD cops since 1998. Other lawsuits filed against HPD officers include one by the family of a couple killed during a botched drug raid. Another one is from the family of Nicholas Chavez, who was shot dead 24 times by several officers, amidst what seemed like a mental health crisis. The $100 million lawsuit from Chavez's family was filed against the city of Houston, the Houston Police Department, and five officers - both current and otherwise - who shot Chavez.