Man who was shot several times by Austin officers never fired his rifle

The gun pointed at officers by the suspect in the officer-involved shooting on Parliament Drive on April 7, 2017 (Austin Police Department Photo)
The rifle pointed at officers by the suspect in the officer-involved shooting on Parliament Drive on April 7, 2017 (Austin Police Department Photo)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — A 31-year-old man who Austin police officers shot several times on Friday after the department initially claimed he fired at them, never fired his weapon, police now say. According to an arrest affidavit, Lawrence Burrell Parrish is charged with aggravated assault against a public servant, accused of threatening police officers when they responded to his apartment at 6321 Parliament Dr.

The incident started around 9:48 p.m. when a woman called 911 stating Parrish, her roommate, seemed to be on drugs and in an “altered mental state.” The woman also told police earlier in the day, Parrish was saying he had just been shot in the chest by police and was yelling and cursing as if he was actually arguing with an officer. Due to his “strange behavior,” the woman grabbed her children and left the apartment, the affidavit continued. When she returned home that evening, she found Parrish on the street with a gun near him, that’s when she called 911.

The gun pointed at officers by the suspect in the officer-involved shooting on Parliament Drive on April 7, 2017 (Austin Police Department Photo)
Austin police say this was the rifle, a 40 caliber Hi-Point Carbine, that the suspect pointed at them in the officer-involved shooting on Parliament Drive on April 7, 2017 (Austin Police Department Photo)

When officers arrived at the home at 9:54 p.m., the man had gone back inside the house. Officers then took up position in front of the house and tried to get the man to come out, but he stayed inside for a “period of time,” Interim Chief of Police Brian Manley said the night of the shooting.

Police then called for the SWAT team. While they were waiting, at 10:12 p.m., Parrish walked out of the house and fired at officers, Chief Manley said within hours of the shooting.

On Monday afternoon, during a news conference, Chief Manley said after reviewing the incident, it does not appear the suspect ever fired his rifle at the officers. “We now believe, based on where we are at in the investigation, that he did not fire, even though our officers that night at the scene believed that he had, in fact, had fired the weapon,” explained Manley.

According to the arrest affidavit, which was filed the day after the shooting,  the officer who was closest to Parrish said he saw Parrish “raise the rifle toward his direction.” The officer stated he fired two rounds at Parrish and then ducked down to take cover when he heard more gunshots, but he wasn’t sure if it came from Parrish or other officers. Parrish was hit several times.

Manley said the situation unfolded within a matter of seconds, which is why there were some discrepancies involving whether or not the suspect had fired his weapon.

“The shots that were fired were all in rapid succession and all within one second time and it was very quick. And the officers’ perception at that time was that he had indeed fired towards them at well,” said Manley.

Parrish was taken to the hospital where he is still being treated.

In all, four officers shot at the suspect. The officers involved were: Paul Bianchi, 5-year veteran; Jordan Wagstaff, first-year officer; Dane O’Neill, 5-year veteran; and Marcos Johnson, who has been with the department since 2012 but came to APD with three years of law enforcement experience. All four officers are on administrative leave, as is standard practice for an officer-involved shooting. An official investigation into the shooting is underway.

Editor’s note: The original version of this story indicated Parrish was booked into Travis County Jail, but he remains hospitalized and was booked by proxy.

 

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