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Family of Unarmed Texas Teen Shot by Cop Calls for 'Fair' Investigation

by Matt Johnson and Jacquellena Carrero /

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The family of the unarmed teenager fatally shot by an Austin police officer is demanding a “full and fair” investigation into their son’s death.

David Joseph, 17, was shot and killed by police Monday morning, authorities said. His death has perplexed his family, who learned on Tuesday that the teenager was unarmed and naked when he was fatally wounded.

“Our family is devastated today by the loss of our beloved son and brother, David. We are shocked and saddened that he was taken from us in an unexpected and violent way, and are struggling to understand how our child was stolen from us by the police,” Joseph’s family said in a statement obtained by NBC News.

David Joseph, 17.
David Joseph, 17.Carrero, Jacquellena (206102421) / Family handout

Austin Police Chief of Staff Brian Manley said at a news conference Tuesday that the officer involved, Geoffrey Freeman, initially responded to a report of one male chasing another through a city apartment complex but did not see any suspects.

Freeman stayed in the neighborhood to try and locate the suspect when he came upon Joseph, who was nude. Manley said the teen ignored orders to stop and charged at the officer, which is when Freeman opened fire.

According to police, part of the altercation was caught on the officer’s patrol car dash camera video. Manley, who reviewed the video, said the entire confrontation “lasted a matter of seconds.”

He could not answer whether Freeman attempted to use a Taser to subdue Joseph before shooting him.

“We have concurrent investigations going on right now. We have an internal investigation with the Internal Affairs division that will look at this incident to determine whether or not it was in compliance with APD policy,” Manley told reporters.

There will also be a criminal investigation conducted with the Travis County District Attorney’s Office, which will present the case to a grand jury.

Officer Freeman, who had been with Austin police for 10 years, is on administrative duty, which Manley says is standard procedure.

The Combined Law Enforcement Associations of Texas released a statement in support of Freeman on Tuesday.

“Officer Freeman is a member of CLEAT and we are representing him throughout the legal and administrative process. He has not been charged with anything. We encourage the community, while grieving, to have patience and allow the process to go forward until all of the facts are known,” the statement said.

The dashcam video has not been released by police.

Terri Burke, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Texas, said Joseph’s death comes just one week after another fatal officer-involved shooting of an unarmed black man. Last week, San Antonio police shot and killed 36-year-old Antronie Scott after his cellphone was mistaken for a weapon.

“Two Texas officer-involved fatal shootings of unarmed black men within days is beyond tragic, because we have the answers to avoid these senseless deaths,” Burke said in a statement.

Meanwhile, Joseph’s family demanded a “full and fair investigation” into his death.

“David had no weapon. We do not know what led to his meeting with Officer Freeman, but we know that our David should not have been taken away from us. No family should have to suffer like we are today,” the statement read.

Joseph was a senior at Connally High School in Austin, where he played football and soccer, and wanted to attend college this fall.

Michelle Aguoru, 18, went to high school with Joseph. She told NBC affiliate KXAN that she struggled to understand why he was killed.

“He was very smart. That’s really what I want people to know about him,” Aguoru said. “It makes me really upset to think from on the outside looking in they are gonna think he’s some thug. Whatever was wrong, that’s not how he usually is and he knows better.”

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