Viral police videos raise questions about who’s in the wrong

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Video of an Austin police officer pepper-spraying a man on Sixth Street on Saturday night is receiving a lot of attention. It is just one of many recent incidents involving police officers around the country and has people asking: “Did the officer go too far?”

When she’s not in the classroom, University of Texas Professor Mary Angela Bock spends her time researching what goes on behind these videos.

“I’m interested in how justice and fairness and crime appear to people,” said Bock.

A pair videos went viral over the weekend showing police officers across Texas using force. One from McKinney showed an officer throwing a 14-year-old girl to the ground before he pointed a gun at two other teens. Video of the incident on Sixth Street showed an Austin Police Department Mounted Patrol officer grabbing a man’s cellphone and another officer using pepper spray on the same man.

“I think that cameras are allowing citizens to hold police accountable in ways they never could before,” Bock added.

On Monday, the former South Carolina police officer who fatally shot an unarmed black man was indicted on a murder charge. It was another case of an officer being accused of using excessive force.

“People have the right to film police, and I believe they need to film police,” Bock said.

But Ken Casady, president of the Austin Police Association, says a cellphone clip does not give you a full picture of what is happening. In the case from Saturday night, Casady said the man was interfering with the officer’s job.

“There’s absolutely no problem with filming police officers,” he said. “But when they tell you to get back … you need to get back.”

APD has released a statement saying it is aware of the video and that investigators are looking into whether the officers’ conduct was allowed in their policies.

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