Surprise, surprise … a black teen was shot dead on Monday by a police officer in Austin, Texas.
The victim has been identified as David Joseph who was just 17 years old.
The officer involved in the shooting has been named as Geoffrey Freeman, who is described as a veteran officer who joined the force in 2005.
“All of our officer-involved shootings are tragedies,” Austin police Chief of Staff Brian Manley said.
As per usual, the chief offered a generic statement that acknowledges “all” shooting deaths rather than explicitly addressing the unwavering pattern of black killings that one of his officers has just contributed to.
Concurrent investigations are underway, Manley added, including a criminal investigation being conducted by the Special Investigations Unit and the district attorney’s office.
Officers reportedly responded to a call that a man was chasing someone through an apartment complex. Officer Freeman had been talking to witnesses when he responded to a call nearby at which time he encountered Joseph and opened fire within seconds of the confrontation, according to Statesman.
Several residents reportedly called police claiming that a man was running around the neighborhood acting erratically.
Joseph was naked at the time of the incident and unarmed. Those details, of course, sparked questions about Freeman’s decision to shoot.
While key factors in this case will likely involve the distance between the officer and Joseph and whether or not the officer can prove he was in immediate danger, it will take much convincing to justify pulling his gun instead of his Taser.
A twist that makes this incident substantially different from most of the others is that Officer Freeman is also black.
Nelson Linder, president of the Austin NAACP, said the incident highlights the need for police to review how they handle similar situations in the future.
“Once again it is very clear that this policy of response to resistance is not being enforced,” Linder said. “They need to rethink this whole approach, especially if there might be mental illness issues.”
Jim Harrington, longtime director and founder of the Texas Civil Rights Project, released a statement that strongly condemns Officer Freeman’s actions.
“It is almost incomprehensible that a young naked man would be considered dangerous such that a police officer would kill him,” he said. The social advocacy group has called for “a full, fair, and open investigation” of the shooting.
“This is the pattern that led to the U.S. Department of Justice investigation a few years back, and it appears that the pattern of police shootings continues,” Harrington said. “We intend to pursue this matter with the Department of Justice once more.”
Chief Manley declined to say if the victim had any past history of mental illness or police record, but those details are sure to be revealed as the investigation continues.
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