AUSTIN - The President of the Austin Police Association said a trend, known as 'de-policing', is affecting officers at the Austin Police Department and it may have even played a role in a fatal shooting over the weekend.
Ken Casaday said the officer in Saturday's deadly incident gave the armed man more leeway than police policy calls for before pulling the trigger.
"They could have used that force earlier, but they didn't," Casaday said.
The incident started when the armed suspect was fighting with another man outside the Anderson Mill Pub just after one 1 a.m. on Saturday.
Police responded, confiscated the gun and the suspect left. But about 30 minutes later, the suspect returned, this time with an AR-15 and a shotgun.
Police said he fired several rounds into the air. He refused repeated commands to drop his weapons and was shot when he started walking toward officers.
Casaday said the officers waiting to use deadly force may be a result of something called "de-policing," a trend he sees happening across the country.
"Officers are feeling so much pressure from the scrutiny the media have put on them. They just are not making the stops and taking the risks that they used to... Sometimes it's just easier to go out and answer your calls and not be proactive, because really when officers are proactive is when they get in trouble," Casaday said.
In Austin, Casaday said de-policing started after former officer, Geoffrey Freeman, shot and killed a naked and unarmed David Joseph last year. A shooting that cost Freeman his job, even though he was criminally cleared.
But President of the NAACP, Nelson Linder, isn't buying de-policing.
"If you are being cautious, you should be cautious, you should never take a human life unless you have to so the idea of being more thoughtful, being more careful, I expect that in any situation," Linder said.
But Casaday said de-policing is real.
He said many officers feel the department has been unfair about officer discipline regarding deadly force incidents.
He pointed to a recent survey showing low morale among officers and department numbers showing lower arrest numbers and lower ticket writing numbers.
But what Casaday is truly concerned about is that one day, the caution officers are exercising may end up costing one of them their lives.
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