Austin police apologize for rape joke caught on camera

Dashcam

AUSTIN (KXAN) — The Austin Police Department said Friday it had determined a video posted to YouTube the day before was real, and that an internal investigation is underway.

The video was taken from a dashboard camera while a police cruiser was pulled over. You can hear two men, later identified as Austin police officers Mark Lyttle and Michael Castillo , talking with each other. It’s what was said that is causing a controversy.

The video’s poster, Austin attorney Drew Gibbs, told KXAN the video was obtained through an open records request. The description under the video says two officers are “yucking it up.”

The audio throughout the nearly two minute video isn’t all clear. But here’s some of what was said:

Officer 1: Alright, we’re gonna be riding out for a week.
Officer 2: Yo, we used to. They used to do that.
Officer 2: Hey, put it this way; if we ride out for a week, crime is gonna be on the run and (expletive) non-existent. (Expletive) would get real for the bad guys. The world would be at peace for a week.

Then the two start joking they might just ignore crimes.

Officer 1: Either that, or, you’d think that because we’d turn a blind eye towards everything.
Officer 2: Or that.
Officer 1: (Expletive) who cares.
Officer 2: Or that. It could be that.
Officer 1: I want to report a robbery! You probably deserved it.

Officer 1: Look at that girl over there.
Officer 2: (blows whistle) Go ahead and call the cops. They can’t unrape you. (laughter)
Officer 1: You didn’t turn your camera off, did you?
Officer 2: They can’t unrape you.

After a little more conversation, you see what appears to be one officer walking in front of the police cruiser before the video ends.

An Austin Police Department spokesperson said the department was not aware of this video’s existence until contacted by KXAN and released the following statement:

Thank you for bringing this matter to our attention. The attitude and commentary depicted within this video are not consistent with the level of professionalism we expect of our officers and does not represent the values of the Austin Police Department.

APD said the department has launched an investigation to determine if this video is real and where it came from, but the officers are still currently on normal duty.

Friday, APD published a statement saying it has identified the officers and that the department has launched an internal review.

The Austin Police Department has validated the video/audio publicly released pursuant to the Texas Open Records Act.  The officers in the video/audio have been identified as Austin Police officers.  Upon learning of the video’s contents, the Department immediately launched an internal investigation.  The investigation will include a comprehensive audit of the involved officers’ contacts with victims of sexual assault to ensure the actions taken during the contacts meet the expectations of the Department, the public and most importantly, the victims. Upon conclusion of the investigation, the Department will take appropriate corrective action.

APD extends a heartfelt apology to all victims of sexual assault. The comments made by the officers are contrary to the long-standing commitment of the Department to bring compassionate justice to sexual assault victims.

Austin Police Association President Wayne Vincent said Friday the officers were caught in an unguarded moment and someone took advantage of the situation in an attempt to embarrass the APD.

“I’m sure the officers will face consequences because of this, but at the end of the day we all would be embarrassed if everything we said was made public,” said Vincent who does not believe the officers deserve to be fired, but sensitivity training would be an appropriate discipline. Although the mention of rape is one Vincent knows will bring concern from members of the community, he said the context of the statement should be taken into consideration.

“I don’t doubt for a minute it will push folks button as to what was said, that is why this is so embarrassing, but does it reflect those officers work ethic? I doubt very seriously that it does.”

Attorney Drew Gibbs released a statement Friday addressing why he posted the video:

The Carlson Law Firm obtained this video as a part of our standard investigation of a motor vehicle collision.  The comments on the video struck me as inappropriate and I chose to allow the court of public opinion to decide if they agreed.  Arguably even more inappropriate than the rape joke made by the police officer was the other officer’s initial reaction, which was to hope that the video camera was not rolling.  I understand that was a similar reaction to what occurred in the early morning hours of New Year’s Day in 2012  when Antonio Buehler was arrested by members of the Austin  Police Department after filming them in action.  I would hope that when a police officer observes another officer acting inappropriately, or worse, illegally, that their initial reaction would be to correct that behavior and prevent its reoccurrence.  Instead, it seems that all too often the reaction of many  otherwise good police officers is to hide any evidence of misconduct.

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