AUSTIN — AUSTIN -- During a panel hosted by Austin NPR affiliate KUT Thursday, Interim Austin Police Chief Brian Manley called the Austin bomber a domestic terrorist.
KUT reported that Manley said, “I actually agree now that he was a domestic terrorist for what he did to us.”
Manley recently sparked controversy after he referred to Austin bomber Mark Conditt as a "challenged young man" during a press conference after his death.
However, Manley said he's now "very comfortable" with calling Conditt a terrorist, KUT said.
KUT reported that Chas Moore of the Austin Justice Coalition also agreed with Manley and added that he believes Conditt was treated differently because of his race.
"Because he was white, we gave him the benefit of being a human first," he said, according to KUT.
A transcript of the video above:
MANLEY: As your police chief, I actually agree now that he was a domestic terrorist for what he did to us. [applause] But, in that moment, I want you to understand I was so focused on putting a stop to it and making sure we did it in a way that allowed us to handle the suspect or suspects in a court system in the future. I was very focused on specific language. I’ve now had the opportunity to sit back and understand and absorb all of the impacts that it had on a personal level, and that is why I sit here today and I am very comfortable saying that to our community and what he did to us, he was a domestic terrorist.
MODERATOR: So, chief, it was the facts of the impact that changed your thinking? It was the actual facts of the case? I think there were people who felt from the very beginning, legal definition or not, that that’s what was going on. What was it that tipped your thinking?
MANLEY: I think that what actually allows me to, and I’m always willing to change my opinion and why I have is, now that I have taken everything into consideration, his actions along with the impact that it had on this community, I have now changed my opinion, and I do believe that he was a domestic terrorist for what he did to us here in Austin.
In a press conference on Thursday March 29, Manley addressed the comments he made on KUT earlier that morning.
Manley began the press conference saying that during the midst of the bombings, he was mainly focused on the investigation itself, identifying the suspect, and putting a stop to the violence. Manley said after receiving a week of reflection, he felt comfortable labeling the Austin bomber as a domestic terrorist. The Austin Interim Police Chief said he received feedback from the community in his reflection period, which gave him a better understanding of the terror that was created in Austin by the suspect.
"My message on this and I'm believing now, and classifying this now with my opinion was domestic terrorism," Manley said in the Thursday press conference.
View Manley's press conference regarding his comments on KUT Thursday HERE:
In a press conference held on March 21, Manley said "it is the outcry of a very challenged young man talking about challenges in his personal life that led him to this point." Manley received criticism from the community following those statements, and told KVUE in an exclusive interview his comments in the March 21 press conference were merely a summarized what the suspect said in the video.
Manley revisited those comments in the press conference held on Thursday March 29.
"In a press conference I held announcing the conclusion of the case, I used a word to describe him that I understand was very concerning to members of this community," Manley said in the March 29 press conference. "I did not use that word in an attempt to minimize what he had done or as an attempt to justify what he had done. I was just describing what I heard him state on the tape. I understand that was a comment that was hurtful to parts of our community and I have apologized for that."
Manley also addressed how the department handled the first bomb which killed Anthony Stephan House.
"On the scene, I classified it as a homicide, and I had a member of my team come out and say that it was now being investigated as a suspicious death because we couldn't rule out that [House] was the bomb maker and it had exploded. And that was absolutely wrong," Manley said. "There was no excuse for that. I had a meeting with my team the very next day and I asked them 'did we really just tell an 8-year-old girl over the news that we think her father is not only the bomb maker, but blew himself up?' because I have a problem with that."
Manley admitted there were a few missteps during the investigation and added certain comments could have been said in a better way. He said the department would learn from those missteps and become better because of it, but assured there was no intent behind the situation regarding House.
Manley said it felt appropriate for him to make the comment as the Austin Interim Police Chief, who speaks on behalf of the police department.
"It's appropriate for me to make this comment because I'm commenting on how this impacted my community, our community. Whether others come out and say the same is up to them."
Manley concluded the press conference stating he would be concerned releasing the 25-minute Austin bomber tape to the public at the conclusion of the investigation because he worries the notoriety and publicity might inspire others to commit a similar act.