CLEAT says Austin mayor is interfering with officers’ rights

Still from David Joseph shooting dashcam footage (Austin Police Department PHoto)
Still from David Joseph shooting dashcam footage (Austin Police Department PHoto)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — In response to Austin Mayor Steve Adler’s comments during a news conference to announce the creation of a task force to address institutional racism across the city, the Combined Law Enforcement Associations of Texas says it’s issuing a subpoena against Adler stating he’s interfering with cases involving two Austin police officers.

Last week, Adler highlighted two high-profile cases. The first one he spoke about was Officer Geoffrey Freeman’s deadly shooting of David Joseph. Freeman, while he was found justified in his actions by a Travis County grand jury, he was fired by Chief Art Acevedo. Freeman is currently fighting to get his job back.

Adler said the second “disturbing” case involves Breaion King, an elementary school teacher, who was arrested last year. In July, a video of her arrest came to light. It shows Officer Bryan Richter pulling King out of her car and slamming her to the ground. Last week, a Travis County grand jury decided not to file criminal charges against Richter.

In a statement on its website, CLEAT’s Executive Director Charley Wilkison says Adler is interfering with Officer Freeman and Richter’s due process due to the comments he’s made regarding the cases and how he cited those cases in his news conference to announce the task force. CLEAT is a union that represents officers across the state.

“Mayor Adler has made it a point to express that he doesn’t agree with the grand jury process. Knowing full and well that the arbitration process is underway, Mayor Adler is attempting to use his office to interfere with the rights of Officer Freeman and obstruct his due process,” says Wilkison in the statement.

In a statement, Mayor Adler said, “I’ve not interfered with any officer’s rights, am not involved in such personnel decisions, and I have not taken any position on anyone’s legal or civil culpability. I respect the process in place for all parties involved.”

He continued, “Last summer, we initiated a community conversation as part of a larger conversation that our entire country is having about institutional racism. That is an ongoing and important conversation, and I am proud to be a part of it in Austin. There is a difference between discussing institutional racism and whether any one person is racist. We’ll be a better Austin when we understand that difference.”