An Austin police officer who fatally shot an unarmed, naked 17-year-old last month will be fired, Police Chief Art Acevedo announced Monday.
In a memo outlining the disciplinary action, Acevedo said Officer Geoffrey Freeman violated department policy in the shooting of David Joseph — that he should not have confronted the teenager alone, that his decision to draw his weapon wasn’t warranted and that there were other ways he could have stopped Joseph after the teen began charging at the officer.
Freeman’s lawyers with the Combined Law Enforcement Associations of Texas say they will appeal. The general counsel for the group has said Freeman feared for his life when he fired his gun at Joseph.
The group will use the “resources necessary” to ensure that Freeman’s “good name is restored and that he will be back to work,” Executive Director Charley Wilkison said in a statement.
Acevedo said he has “indefinitely suspended” Freeman, which he says is the department’s term for firing. If Freeman appeals, the firing isn’t final until an arbitrator upholds it.
Travis County prosecutors also are investigating the shooting and plan to present the case to a grand jury for possible criminal charges.
Acevedo’s memo to the interim director of civil service explains that Freeman was one of four officers who responded to a call about a naked man running across a roadway on Feb. 8. Freeman knew the other officers were on their way and had even asked for extra help because he believed the person had a mental illness or was high, the memo states.
Acevedo said Freeman should have waited for other officers before confronting Joseph. His memo also says Freeman could have used a stun gun, pepper spray or even physical force to stop Joseph when the teen kept coming toward the officer after Freeman told him to stop. The memo notes that Freeman weighed about 240 pounds, while Joseph weighed about 146 pounds.
An autopsy found that Joseph had marijuana and an anti-anxiety drug in his system when he was fatally shot. The teenager was black, as is Freeman.
Freeman, 42, was a 10-year veteran of the Austin police department.
Source: The AP