Police union president defends use of deadly force

Police union president defends use of deadly force

AUSTIN – In the wake of Monday's officer-involved shooting, Austin Police Association President Ken Casaday said many people don't understand how dangerous an encounter can be or escalate for a police officer even with a naked, unarmed person.

Casaday pointed to a video that captured a 2005 incident in East Austin with Officer Jamie Harver as an example. Police dash cam footage showed Harver responding to a naked man trying to break into an Austin daycare.

She yelled "Sir" a few times to get his attention. When he refused to comply, she used her Taser a couple of times. A few seconds passed before the man gets up, pulls the taser prongs out of his skin, and continues trying to break into the daycare.

He quickly turned his attention to the officer and starts hitting her, trying to take her gun.

Casaday hoped this video will give people a better idea of how situations can quickly get out of control.

"A person's naked, running around the street, can kill you. They can take your gun, take your taser because they have an unhuman strength," said Casaday.

Austin police haven't said if David Joseph, the 17-year-old who was shot and killed Monday, was on any medications. The toxicology reports will take weeks to process. Casaday said there was no doubt that Joseph was mentally altered.

"Running around naked, chasing people, threatening people, that's not your normal everyday activity," said Casaday.

Casaday said he has dealt and fought with many suspects who were either mentally altered or on drugs. He said the latter can make some stronger especially if they're on PCP, bath salts, or meth. He also said certain drugs create high body temperatures and that's why clothes are taken off.

Others disagreed with the approach of confronting an aggressive person.

"You don't confront them, you use that aggression against them," said Nelson Linder, president of the local NAACP chapter.

Linder said he thinks police should contain before confronting subjects. He said Monday's situation is different. He believes the officer panicked. But he thinks police need to change how they approach the mentally ill or those on drugs.

"The case on Monday, this kid was laying down, he was not that aggressive or hurting anybody. He only became aggressive when he was confronted...The officer clearly panicked so I think he was unprepared for what he saw. Why not contain the situation, get back up, then engage when you have to," said Linder.

Casaday said they don't call mental health officers until they get the person under control. He also said he hopes the community will wait for the results of the investigation before calling for any action.

The officer who shot and killed Joseph, Senior Police Officer Jeffrey Freeman, has been with the Austin Police department ten and a half years. Police said he has a clean internal affairs record and is an Iraqi war veteran. He is on paid administrative leave as is standard protocol while investigators look into the shooting.


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