Austin’s police chief on Thursday pledged a transparent, fair and unbiased investigation into the fatal police shooting of an unarmed and naked teenager during an encounter Monday.
David Joseph, 17, was shot and killed by Austin Police Officer Geoffrey Freeman after police said the teenager charged the cop, who was responding to 911 calls about a man chasing another man in an apartment complex.
"No matter how the circumstances are when someone dies in a police action, whether justified or not, is a tragedy," Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo told reporters at a news conference where he shared the mic with Black Lives Matter and other community activists.
Part of the 10:25 a.m. deadly encounter was captured by Freeman’s dashcam, and the video shows Joseph turn and charge Freeman before they both go out of view and shots are fired, Acevedo said. All patrol officers are required to carry Taser stun guns, he said.
"Why didn’t he Tase him is part of the investigation," Acevedo said in response to a reporter's question. "I think we’re all asking that."
The first 911 calls in the area Monday began at 9:21 a.m., and Freeman was dispatched but couldn’t find the suspect, Acevedo said. At 9:57 a.m. an apartment manager called police and said a man was chasing another man in the complex, and Freeman was sent to that call.
By 10:23 a.m., callers reported a naked man jumping in front of a car and sitting in a traffic circle, and Freeman called for backup, Acevedo said. Freeman then turned a corner and pulled up behind Joseph standing in the street at 10:25 a.m., Acevedo said, and Joseph turned and ran at the officer and was then shot.
Acevedo invited to the press conference community activists and a representative from Black Lives Matter Austin, who demanded accountability in the shooting. Both Freeman and Joseph are black.
"We appreciate the acknowledgment from chief Acevedo that there was a problem in how David Joseoph was killed," Kenya Mason, a leader of Black Lives Matter Austin, said. "Actions speak louder than words."
Acevedo said that had initial calls said they were dealing with a naked man or someone in a mental crisis, four officers, a supervisor and a mental health officer would have been dispatched.
"At first we didn’t have any indication until very, very, very late in this incident that we were dealing with somebody that was in an altered state of mind," he said. Toxicology tests are pending, but the results probably won't affect whether deadly force was justified, Acevedo said.
Joseph’s family has called for a "full and fair investigation" into his death.