Killing David Joseph Yields Naked And Afraid Damage Control
Feb. 18, 2016 (Mimesis Law) — Police in recent months have blamed such factors as the “Ferguson Effect” and “de-policing” as factors demonstrating the existence of the mythological “War on Police.” The Austin, Texas Police Department has added a new component to these chimaeras. We don’t have enough police, and we don’t have enough training!
The Austin Police Association released a statement today appearing to blame the Austin Police Department (APD) police chief’s budget priorities for the shooting of David Joseph, a naked, unarmed teen who Officer Geoffrey Freeman alleged was charging at him when he shot Joseph twice in the chest.
It’s not about the fact that an Austin, Texas officer shot and killed a naked, unarmed teen, you see. It’s about the failure of those with the purse strings to actually hire more officers!
In its statement today, the police association insisted that while the incident had not yet been fully investigated, “one question has risen above all others. Why didn’t this officer use another option in dealing with this situation?” Their answer: a shortage of 145 police officers. The union claims it has lobbied APD administration “to deal with this problem before a tragedy occurs,” and that there was not enough money to hire officers overtime to cover the shortage.
What the number of officers has to do with Freeman’s killing Joseph is anyone’s guess. The union can’t be bothered with correlations when a good non-sequitur will be.
And of course, training is always an issue. We need better training of those who carry a badge, a gun, and the state-sanctioned licensed to kill.
The police association is also calling for more training in the wake of the David Joseph shooting. At [the February 16] press conference, the association’s president also called for more hand-to-hand defensive combat training for officers.
Exactly what kind of hand-to-hand defensive training is necessary, to get Austin police to recognize a naked, unarmed teenager isn’t a threat worthy of the First Rule of Policing, isn’t on the table. Maybe it will be the same sort that gives School Resource Officers the knack for performing judo flips and chokeholds while they play hall monitor with a badge. Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo has continually stated his community is different, and that there will be an open, honest, and transparent investigation into the death of David Joseph. He just doesn’t want it done through an independent, outside source.
The shooting last Monday has led to protests by local activists and an insistence by the police chief, Art Acevedo, that his department is committed to a transparent investigation. “We aren’t Ferguson; we’re not another American city,” Acevedo said. “We’re the city of Austin and we stand together to hold each other’s feet to the fire.”
Nevertheless, Acevedo has resisted calls for an outside investigation, saying those were “premature” and that the APD was capable of conducting an impartial investigation.
You can trust us, says Chief Acevedo. If I say, “We’re not Ferguson,” then that makes the death of a black teenager all the more palatable, and if I insist an outside investigation isn’t necessary then you can absolutely trust me. Plus, if we conduct a “premature” independent investigation then that’s not going to address any of the “systemic” issues that are present from an officer killing an unarmed naked black teenager “perceiving” a threat to his life and reacting accordingly.
There’s also video of the shooting, but Chief Acevedo won’t release it due to his “responsibilities” to the Freeman and Joseph families. What those duties are beyond immediate damage control is a mystery. Acevedo is more than happy to release the “dispatch audio” of the incident, though. It’s probably because he’s cogent that once the public sees the gunning down of a teen who posed no threat whatsoever to law enforcement, his department will be doing far more than spouting lip service and damage control.
Joseph’s family wants answers. Those elected officials accountable to Joseph’s family and the surrounding constituency are keen on getting answers too.
How much of a threat could a boy pose to police under those circumstances?” said the attorney for Joseph’s family, Scott Medlock. “His mother wants to know why this happened, why her son would be found in this state and why they would respond by shooting him.”
The nature of the shooting had several questioning how it was handled, including Council Member Ora Houston, whose district includes the neighborhood where Joseph was shot. Houston said initial details made it appear that Joseph was experiencing a mental or behavioral crisis.
As the days pass, and the actions of Officer Geoffrey Freeman are investigated, one thing remains clear. Police departments will continue to give the public, now more aware than ever of issues concerning police misconduct, innovative taking points to explain why their actions were justified. It’s also very clear that no matter what talking points are used to justify the death of yet another black child, or the ways in which those talking points are framed, it’s not going to be good enough until accountability is among the steps taken to rectify every lost life.