David Joseph’s mother’s plea: More training for officers

David Joseph (Courtesy: Claudia -- Family Friend)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Ketty Sully has two sons left.

They are the only family the Haitian-American woman has in the United States.

An Austin police officer shot and killed her third and youngest son, David Joseph, earlier this year.

Since then, her tears have not stopped. “I’m scared every day for the other two,” Sully said. “I cry at night. I think about him coming home. One day is better and another day it’s not.”

Police say 17-year-old David was naked, unarmed and roaming around the 12000 block of Natures Bend in Northeast Austin on the morning of Feb. 8.

Neighbors called police.

Officer Geoffrey Freeman, who is also black and a 10-year veteran on the force, arrived on the scene and allegedly gave several commands to stop.

According to Freeman, David charged at him. That is when the officer opened fire, killing the teen.

“He didn’t do nothing,” said David’s mother. “He didn’t deserve to die. He deserves for someone to come over and help him.”

Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo fired Freeman. And the Joseph family filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the officer and the city.

A grand jury declined to indict the officer.

An autopsy reports revealed that the teen had antihistamine, marijuana and Xanax in his system at the time of his death.

Sully said she regrets that Freeman fired his gun and that he did not use another method. “When [dispatchers] call you, they tell you what’s going on,” Sully said. “So, if you already know that you cannot handle it by yourself, wait. Wait for backup.”

Sully said what is troubling her now are the recent police shootings around the country; and, the outrage and unrest in cities including Charlotte, North Carolina and Tulsa, Oklahoma.

She is trying to forgive Freeman. But, her son is gone forever.

“I have to forgive him,” she said. “It’s in the Bible. Forgive yourself first and forgive others. I have to keep going and fight for David.”

Freeman is set to have an arbitration hearing with the city in November.

He could be reinstated back on the force, if the arbitration board finds the he followed proper protocol.

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