Travis County officials knew about Breaion King video months ago

Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo at a press conference in response to the 2015 arrest of Breaion King, July 22, 2016 (KXAN Photo)
Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo at a press conference in response to the 2015 arrest of Breaion King, July 22, 2016 (KXAN Photo)

AUSTIN (KXAN) – For months, Travis County officials have known about an Austin police officer’s racially charged comment directed at Breaion King, an African-American elementary school teacher, after she was violently restrained during a 2015 traffic stop.

News of the physical restraint of King by Austin Police Officer Bryan Richter broke Thursday, more than a year after it occurred on June 15, 2015. A police dash camera captured the event, including video of King being dragged and slammed to the ground.

While King is in the back of the cruiser, APD Officer Patrick Spradlin is heard linking fear of African-Americans to their “violent tendencies.”

The Travis County District Attorney’s Office says it has been investigating officer Richter’s use of force in this case since January. The assistant district attorney handling it told us it’s still an ongoing investigation, and they cannot comment on the case.

But KXAN obtained emails showing concern about Spradlin’s comments in the car have existed for months.

In a January email exchange, the Travis County DA’s office was told by the county attorney that it would not be pursuing a charge of resisting arrest filed against King.

But a county attorney who wrote to the DA also raised a red flag. “There is something else I wanted to make you of aware of,” the county attorney said, referencing Spradlin’s comment caught on tape.

In another email, a county attorney says the district attorneys office had reviewed the video, and it “went all the way up the chain of command at APD and the officer was cleared.”

APD Chief Art Acevedo has said he was only made aware of the issue this week, but the emails appear to show some department staff had known about it.

Police said Friday this case more than likely went up to a commander, but that is part of its ongoing administrative inquiry.

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