Culture / Sporting Life

Basketball Legend Praises Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo on Jimmy Kimmel — the Today Show Brings a Few Tougher Questions

Houston Leader in the National Spotlight

BY // 06.04.20

Basketball legend Shaquille O’Neal and late night TV host/conscience Jimmy Kimmel are both praising Houston police chief Art Acevedo in the wake of the George Floyd protests that have rippled across America, pushing for real change.

Appearing on Jimmy Kimmel Live! Tuesday night, Shaq makes a point of bringing up Acevedo when the subject turns to the protests.

“There’s a chief of police friend of mine, who I was in the (police) academy with, Art Acevedo in Houston,” Shaq says. “What he did — marching with the people — that was a great thing.”

“I saw him speak yesterday,” Kimmel replies. “He had some really great things to say. And you wish that there were more Art Acevedos out there when you hear him speak.”

Shaq, who considers San Antonio his hometown, has long been interested in policing and law enforcement. He worked as an auxiliary sheriff in Broward County in Florida (a largely ceremonial role in Shaq’s case that centered on educating the public, but still an official one) and was sworn in as a sheriff’s deputy in Clayton County, Georgia, after his Hall of Fame playing career. While he was not day-to-day policing, Shaq took his law enforcement commitments very seriously. That meant going through police academy training, which is where he first met and befriended Acevedo.

“He and I were actually in the police academy together,” Shaq notes.

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Of course, Houston is coming off hosting one of the largest peaceful protests in the world — the George Floyd march that saw tens of thousands walking together through downtown in support of Black Lives Matter Tuesday afternoon. Acevedo knelt with the protestors for 30 seconds before the march began — and has personally engaged with protestors one-on-one in the days and nights of protests.

While other major cities have been wracked by some violence — along with the peaceful protests — Houston has largely not seen major instances of destruction or violence. Acevedo still has some prominent critics, particularly when it comes to the releasing (or not) of body cam footage in Houston police officer involved shootings.

Just the morning after Shaq praised Acevedo on Kimmel, the Houston police chief was asked those body cam questions on the Today show. While saying the body cam footage would be released in at least one case, Acevedo largely turned to pushing for a national policy on the release of such footage.

“I think we have to have a national standard and we have to have a conversation. . .” Acevedo said on Today. “What we need moving forward is a national approach to the critical policies in law enforcement. You can not have 18,000 sets of policies.

Today show host Hoda Kotb also asked Acevedo about his request to George Floyd’s family that they give the Houston Police Department “this honor” of escorting his body for his memorial and funeral services in Houston.

“Because this is a homegrown young man whose life was taken without excuse or justification,” Acevedo says when asked specifically about calling the special escort an honor, “Mayor (Sylvester) Turner — who’s homegrown, born and raised — we wanted to make sure that as his body’s brought here that he’s safe, that his family’s safe.”

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