AFRICANGLOBE – A teenage boy, who was naked and unarmed, was shot dead by a police officer on Monday (Feb 8).
Police in Austin, Texas, said that on Monday morning they received multiple calls from residents of the neighbourhood in the northeast of the city reporting the teen, now identified as 17-year-old David Joseph, was “acting erratically” and allegedly “chasing” another male in a nearby apartment complex.
Austin Police chief of staff Brian Manley told reporters yesterday (Feb 9) that when police arrived at the scene, the teen was not wearing any clothes and proceeded to charge at veteran Officer Geoffrey Freeman.
Manley said the officer ordered Joseph to stop, but that he did not comply, The Huffington Post reported.
“Mr Joseph ultimately charged at the officer and that’s when shots were fired,” Manley said, adding that Freeman fired just seconds after the confrontation began.
The teen died Monday at Round Rock Medical Center.
Nelson Linder, president of the Austin chapter of the NAACP, told local reporters that he questions whether the shooting was legal.
Linder met with Joseph’s family yesterday. He said the family is distraught and overwhelmed with grief.
“The bottom line is a young man is dead,’ Linder said. ‘He lost his life based on poor conduct and terrible tactics.”
The Texas Civil Rights Project (TCRP) has called for a “full, fair and open” investigation into the shooting.
“It’s almost incomprehensible that a young naked man would be considered dangerous such that a police officer would kill him,” Jim Harrington, director of the TCRP, said in a statement.
“There have been way too many police killings over the years simply because police do not know how to deescalate situations and end up resorting to violence. This has to stop.”
Freeman is a veteran of more than 10 years on the Austin force. He has been placed on administrative leave.
Police say part of the incident was recorded on the officer’s dashboard camera, but the shooting itself occurred off camera. Audio from the shooting was recorded and police have said the officer can be heard ordering the teen to stop repeatedly after he began charging at the officer.
Manley said there are two investigations into the incident, both an internal one and a criminal one.
“This is a tragic event. It’s tragic for the community and for the police department,” Manley said.
An autopsy is being conducted by the Travis County Medical Examiner’s Office, who will be able to determine if there were any alcohol or drugs in Joseph’s system at the time of the shooting.