Questions answered after criticisms in local teen’s shooting

Officer Geoffrey Freeman (Courtesy: The Hutto News)
Officer Geoffrey Freeman (Courtesy: The Hutto News)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Over the last two days, Austin Police Association President Ken Casaday has heard the criticisms and the questions since an officer shot and killed a teenager on Monday morning.

“Why not use a taser?”

“Why shoot a naked and obviously unarmed teenager?”

His answers to those questions come in the form of a video which shows a similar situation.

“Just because someone is naked and in the street does not mean that they are not a danger to someone. I would tell you they are an extreme danger,” said Casaday.

Casaday points to a 2005 dash camera video as an example of why a stun gun doesn’t always subdue the person in question.

Warning: Dash camera video may contain graphic images

In the video, an Austin police officer is responding to a daycare center where a naked man is trying to barge in through the front door. After shouting at the man, she deploys a Taser to bring him to the ground. As he rolls around on the ground, the officer continues to cycle the Taser until the man pulls the prongs out of his back and continues to try and bust down the door. A short time later, he walks towards the officer, punching her, knocking her to the ground, and appears to try and take something from her, but seconds later, police backup arrive. Nobody died, but Casaday says it very easily could have ended in the death of an officer.

MORE:Family ‘devastated’ by loss of teen shot by Austin police

  • To stop someone fleeing arrest
  • If the suspect is violent or resisting arrest
  • Officer believes it’s unsafe to approach the subject
  • If the suspect could potentially harm others

Officers should avoid using a stun gun on pregnant women, the elderly, obvious juveniles and people already in handcuffs

“If that officer had not been back there to back up this female officer, the probability of him killing her is high,” said Casaday.

After backup arrives, the man can be seen chasing after female onlookers who were in the area watching the incident unfold before finally being tased again and handcuffed.

MORE: Naked teen killed by police in North Austin

Casaday said the difference between using a stun gun or a gun depends on the perception of the officer who is expected to ask “objectively reasonable.”

Casaday talked briefly about Geoffrey Freeman’s background, telling KXAN he has been an officer with the Austin Police Department for 10 years, but previously served his country in Iraq and worked in administration for the Austin library system. Freeman graduated from Crockett High School where he played football and is described as a “fantastic person” according to Casaday.

“Everything I have heard is that he has had a stellar career at the Austin Police Department.”

On Friday Casaday shed more light on Freeman.

“I know him personally, this guy is the salt of the earth,” said Casaday.  “He’s very well respected by his peers and this is just a very sad situation for him and his family because no police officer wants to take a life.”

“He’s upset,” said Casaday about Freeman after the shooting. “I mean when you take someone’s life it’s many officers who go through this situation suffer through post traumatic stress disorder for years so this will be a problem that he’ll deal with for the rest of his life.”

“Just because someone is naked and in the street does not mean that they are not a danger to someone.” —APA President Ken Casaday

An internal affairs investigation into the shooting has begun and although Casaday could not comment about the specifics, he did say Freeman gave verbal warnings to deescalate the situation before shooting and killing 17-year-old David Josesh. Criticisms regarding how police handled the shooting given Joseph’s age are unfair in Casaday’s eyes.

“I have seen 17 year olds that make me look like a runt,” said the 6’3, 285 pound Casaday. “We saw the football pictures [Joseph’s] family released, that’s an adult man.”

Other scrutiny has come from the Texas Civil Rights Project and the NAACP. Casaday believes the criticism for how the officer did his job should wait until details are revealed in the investigation.

Retired APD officer gives an in-depth in the KXAN studio on use of force. Jerry Staton, use of force expert, delves into why the officer used a gun instead of a taser. Staton has trained hundreds of officers across the state of Texas.

Complete Coverage: The death of David Joseph

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