AUSTIN, Texas — Police have named the victim after a man died in an altercation in Downtown Austin on July 4.
A man was charged with manslaughter after Andre Farwell, 20, died in the incident.
At around 5:22 p.m., the Austin Police Department, Austin-Travis County EMS (ATCEMS) and Austin Fire Department were called to the 100 block of East Fifth Street, near Brazos Street, due to a report about a disturbance between two homeless men.
According to an arrest affidavit obtained by KVUE, the initial call text received by APD said a man wearing black pants and no shoes was assaulting another man across the street from the HandleBar. Further updates stated that the caller was an off-duty officer who said a homicide had occurred and that he was performing CPR.
When officers got to the scene, they found an unresponsive man on the sidewalk. One officer began administering CPR before ATCEMS arrived on scene and took over life-saving measures before taking the man to Dell Seton, where he died.
Officers spoke with several witnesses on the scene. One witness pointed to a man sitting on a nearby bench and said he was the person that assaulted the man who had been on the ground. The man matched the description from the call text, according to the affidavit.
Police detained the man and identified him as 63-year-old Robert Batiste. One of the officers on scene found a wallet on the bench next to where Batiste was sitting. When the officer asked Batiste what happened to the man on the ground, he said the man stole his wallet so he began chasing him westbound on East Fifth in order to get it back and the other man fell to the ground at the intersection of East Fifth and Brazos. The officer confirmed the wallet did belong to Batiste because his Social Security card was inside.
Another witness showed officers cellphone video that captured the altercation between Batiste and Farwell. According to the affidavit, the video showed the man lying on the ground while Batiste's left knee was pressed against the back of his neck and Batiste's right knee was positioned on the pavement against his back. Batiste was using both hands to secure the man's right arm behind his back. Batiste could be heard saying, "Give me my wallet." The video showed Batiste pull up on the man's right arm, lift up his right knee and place all of his weight onto his left knee, positioned on the man's neck. The video shows that the man did have the wallet underneath his body in his left hand but it appeared based on his position and the weight on top of him, he was unable to release it.
The video showed Batiste continuously apply pressure to the man's upper back and neck area until he appeared to stop breathing.
When interviewed by police, Batiste said he was lying on his side on Sabine Street, between Fourth and Fifth Streets, when the man took his wallet out of his back pocket. He chased the man and caught up with him at Fifth and Brazos, but maintained the man fell on his own and that he was never on top of him, but instead kneeling beside him.
The Travis County Medical Examiner's office performed an autopsy on July 5 and determined that the manner of death was homicide, likely due to positional asphyxiation related to prone restraint. The office is still awaiting a toxicology report.
Batiste faces a manslaughter charge, a second-degree felony.
Austin police are continuing to investigate the incident. Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 512-472-TIPS or text "Tip 103" along with your message to CRIMES or use the new Crime Stoppers App. Tipsters can also email the Austin Police Department's homicide unit at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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