On October 12, 2018, The Brasher Law Firm, PLLC alongside Weller, Green, Toups, & Terrell, LLP, on behalf of James “Chad” York, Sandy Lynn Winfrey York, and Loreal Fultz as the independent administrator of the Estate of Chaz Logan York filed suit against the City of Beaumont and Chase Aaron Welch for the wrongful shooting of Chaz Logan York in Beaumont at Madison’s on Dowlen Road that occurred on or around October 14, 2016.
Prior to working for Beaumont PD, Officer Welch worked at various security companies. He has training in close quarter combat techniques and military operations in urban terrain. He’s an expert marksman, and has his green belt in martial arts. He has prior arrests, involving violent behavior, that Beaumont PD was aware of when they hired him, including being arrested for fighting in 2007 in Chambers County and being arrested by Jefferson County as a “suspicious person” in 2008. He started working for the Beaumont PD on or around December 2011.
Officer Welch also had a history of being disciplined by Beaumont PD, including previously being suspended without pay for 3 days for abusing / misusing department equipment when he damaged his computer; being suspended without pay for 10 days for using improper force on a fleeing suspect, wherein he rammed the fleeing suspect multiple times with his vehicle; and for causing a wreck and damaging City property. He also has a history of using violence while on the job. In 2012, he held a man at gunpoint while the man was just walking his dog. Officer Welch had no probable cause to believe this man had committed any crime or was about to commit a crime, but searched him nonetheless and threatened to shoot his dog if he did not let him. In 2016, prior to the night in question, he shot and killed Herbert Edgar Balance from long range through the mouth with a patrol rifle.
On the night in question, Chaz York and his friends were hanging out at Madison’s on Dowlen. Chaz saw his longtime on and off again girlfriend at the bar and went over to talk with her. As soon as he did, he was criminally assaulted by Levi Severson, a guy that his ex-girlfriend was with. Mr. Severson sucker punched him out of nowhere and with no provocation. After the Madison’s employees separated Mr. Severson and Mr. York, Mr. York was confronted by his ex-girlfriend. As they were exchanging words, Madison’s employees tried to separate them as well. Mr. York then started to walk away and go towards his friend’s car. Out of nowhere, Officer Welch appeared, yelled “Beaumont PD,” even though he was not wearing a uniform. Mr. York and his friend started to walk away and Officer Welch and the Madison’s employees chased them. Mr. York and his friend were headed back to the car and Officer Welch began to taunt Mr. York. Officer Welch did not identify himself nor did he try to arrest or detain Chaz York. He also did not instruct Chaz York to do anything (such as “stop” or “put your hands in the air”). Chaz York was ready to leave with his friend. In fact, Chaz York’s friend had already gotten in the car and so had Chaz. But Officer Welch continued to taunt and yell at Chaz York, even demanding that he get out from the car. As Chaz York got out of the car, Officer Welch shot him three times. Chaz York turned and started to run and Officer Welch continued to fire at him. Officer Welch fired 8-10 bullets. Five of the bullets struck Chaz – in his arm, thigh, chest, and back. The shots to Chaz York’s chest and back were fatal, piercing both his lungs. An autopsy done afterwards confirms the same. Thereafter, Officer Welch fled the scene.
After the incident, the City of Beaumont and Chief James Singletary of the Beaumont PD gave interviews that widely misled the public about what happened. Even though Chaz York was a victim who was criminally assaulted in Madison’s before being shot and killed, Officer Singletary blamed Chaz York for being a part of a group that caused a disturbance in Madison’s. Madison’s manager on duty did not think Chaz York had done anything to warrant him being kicked out, let alone shot at. Furthermore, the City of Beaumont and Chief Singletary falsely reported that Mr. York had a bat and went towards Officer Welch with the same before being shot at, despite Mr. York’s friend testifying that she did not see Chaz York with a bat. Mr. York’s friend was not called to testify in the criminal matter. The City of Beaumont also refused to give the public (including news media) access to the 911 tapes and videos from Madison’s.
The City of Beaumont did everything they could to protect their officer who had a history of using violence, and prior arrests. Despite this problematic history, the City of Beaumont continued to promote him through the ranks and even continued to promote him a couple months after he shot and killed Chaz York, with his last promotion in January 2017, before he voluntarily resigned in February 2017.
The case against the City of Beaumont and Chase Welch is pending in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Teas in Beaumont, before Judge Marcia Crone.