Austin police released dash cam footage showing former APD officer, Geoffrey Freeman fatally shooting unarmed teen David Joseph as he ran naked towards the cop down a residential street.
The recently-released dash cam footage shows Officer Freeman’s patrol car pulling up to Joseph from a distance and then firing two shots, both fatally wounding Joseph.
On February 8th, Freeman responded to the call at 9:57 a.m. regarding a, “black male, tall, thin, wearing jeans, boxers’ who’d just jumped a fence and ‘tried to chase a neighbor.”
Austin Police dispatchers advised Freeman that no weapons were involved in the disturbance.
The man was chasing a neighbor towards a gate, and then stopped, according to dispatch recordings.
Officer Freeman can be heard getting out of the car and then saying somewhat calmly, “stop right there, man. Stop right there.”
But it isn’t clear if Joseph was close enough to hear the command.
That’s when the nude Joseph took off sprinting in the direction of Officer Freeman who then raised his voice and yelled, “Don’t move! Don’t move!:
“Stop! Stop! Stop!”
As a naked Joseph grew closer, sprinting towards Freeman for about six seconds, he didn’t appear to be charging the officer. Instead, Joseph would have ran by officer Freeman, and past his patrol car had he stayed on the same trajectory he was on before he was gunned down by the officer.
Freeman then radioed dispatch.
“Shots fired; shots fired…. Start units 10-18. He’s down. Go ahead and send EMS. He started running towards me and wouldn’t stop.”
Freeman then tells Joseph to “breath, man, breath”, but apparently isn’t performing CPR because he’s telling Joseph to breath, and talking to dispatch.
“I’m really losing him,” he tells an emergency worker who’d subsequently arrived on the scene.
Freeman steps aside while efforts to revive Joseph with CPR were unsuccessful.
News about Austin police shooting unarmed black men is nothing new.
However, the unique aspect about the David Joseph shooting is Chief Art Acevedo fired Officer Freeman for excessive force instead of shamelessly defending his killer cop like other shootings during his tenure as Austin’s Police Chief.
This time, Acevedo took a different stance when he fired Freeman, despite pressure from Austin Police Association and CLEAT, the police union, and stated,
“Officer Freeman’s decision to draw his weapon when he exited his vehicle was unwarranted,” Acevedo wrote in a memo detailing Freeman’s disciplinary action for violating the Civil Service Commission rules.
Acevedo referenced several alternatives Freeman could have used instead of deadly force such as a baton, stun gun, pepper spray, a bean bag, a shot gun stashed in the trunk or even physical force as ways to deal with Joseph.
But a police union attorney representing Freeman chastised Acevedo’s decision to cut bait with the killer cop, “Your statements and conduct prior to the completion of the investigation, including statements made to the media, activists, APD cadets, and officers indicate that you are passing judgment on this case without regard to APD training, policy, or the integrity of the investigation.”
Austin Police Association President Ken Casaday lashed out at Acevedo as well, accusing him of politicizing the shooting by inviting community activist to speak at the February 11 press conference regarding the fatal shooting of Joseph.
However, throughout Casaday’s tenure at the position, there hasn’t been a single shooting he hasn’t defended.
And Chief Acevedo actually cited clear and specific reasons for firing Freeman for excessive force against an unarmed teenager.
But Austin’s police union Preisdent Sgt. Todd Harrison still claimed that, “Rather than taking the time needed to conduct a thorough and impartial investigation into the tragic events of Feb. 8, 2016, Chief Acevedo instead chose to send signals to the news media, political activists, rank-and-file police officers and even a cadet class that he intended to fire Officer Freeman no matter what the facts in the case might show.”
Then, Austin City Manager Marc Ott reprimanded Acevedo for insubordination, docking him five days pay worth $4,000 for speaking with community activists about working together to solve problems, and for talking to cadets about how they may not face charges for misuse of deadly force, but they could be fired for it.
And then threatened to fire Acevedo if he did it again.
“I cannot prevent some constituencies–such as the Austin Police Association–from interpreting my actions from their viewpoint when an officer uses deadly force,” Acevedo wrote in response to the reprimand – and seen below the video, “I must lead, direct and instruct as to the proper use of lethal force [while] keeping in mind the consequences to careers, and more importantly, lives.”
“However, I am struggling to understand how to perform my duties if I am restricted from meeting and communicating with police department personnel and cadets and asserting leadership authority as to the use of force policy and expectations,” the Chief continued and that he would redouble efforts to demonstrate due respect for City Manager Ott’s authority.
Austin police watchdogs can only celebrate the fleeting victory of getting one cop fired with a large grain of salt, in light of the anti-police accountability stance of their City Manager.
It begs the question: Why would any rational public servant discipline Chief Acevedo for responding to years of persistent cries to keep Austin’s streets safe from killer police officers?