AUSTIN -- In a press conference Tuesday, the Austin Police Association president cited staffing and training as issues that may have led to an officer fatally shooting 17-year-old David Joseph last week.
Flanked by police union advocates, the Austin Police Association President Ken Casaday said there has been a rush to judgment from Chief Art Acevedo about one of their own: senior patrol officer Geoffrey Freeman. Freeman shot and killed Joseph in a Northeast Austin neighborhood last week.
"It was absolutely inappropriate," Casaday said.
APA is calling for an independent audit of the Austin Police Department's patrol staffing. Casaday noted that APD is 145 officers short. He also said that the department must enhance defense tactics training for APD patrol officers.
"We've gone to this Administration and asked them over and over and over to deal with the problem before a tragedy occurs, nothing ever happened… After the shots came, I believe it was still about a little over three minutes before his nearest backup came,” said Casaday.
In regard to APD's investigation of the shooting, Casaday said that the department is rushing to judgment, according to KVUE reporter Tony Plohetski. Casaday also stated that he is disappointed with APD Chief Art Acevedo and Mayor Steve Adler for holding a press conference with protesters and members of Black Lives Matter.
Freeman's attorney Grant Goodwin said his client was following his training when he shot and killed Joseph.
"The speed at which the situation developed, the nature of the call, definitely led to the situation which Officer Freeman acted upon appropriately in carrying out what he had to do in the situation where he was in fear of not going home to his family," said Goodwin.
Other officers who knew Freeman prior to joining the department defended his character.
Chandra Erving, president of the Texas Peace Officers Association, said the shooting death of Joseph is a tragedy, adding that no officer wakes up with the intention to shoot and kill anyone.
"So the same person I knew in the military before I retired is the same person that I know here on the force," Erving said.
"He used to work as a librarian as well. He's a very calming individual, he thinks before he reacts," said Anthony Nelson, vice president of the APA and attended Crockett High School with Freeman.
Freeman's attorney said his client is expected before internal affairs investigators Wednesday. Beside the criminal investigation, this one will see if Freeman broke any department policies.
Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo responded to the APA's remarks late Tuesday afternoon, saying "I am aware of the comments made by the Austin Police Association. While I respect their views, I will not be commenting any further. As stated last week, our focus is on a complete and impartial investigation, which we owe to both the Joseph and Freeman families, as well as the Austin community."