Amid string of recent officer killings, agencies step in to support fallen

Trooper Damon Allen was killed Nov. 24, 2017 (DPS Photo)
Trooper Damon Allen was killed Nov. 24, 2017 (DPS Photo)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — In a matter of a single day, a Texas Department of Public Safety trooper was shot and killed while conducting a traffic stop and a Hays County deputy was injured in an officer-involved shooting when responding to a 911 call for reports of a break-in at a business.

In the wake of both incidents — one right after another — Ken Casaday, the president of the Austin Police Association says a “war” has been declared on law enforcement.

“There’s no doubt in the state of Texas and other areas of the United States, there’s a war on police officers. It’s become very popular to criticize the police and encourage people to be violent towards the police,” said Casaday. “We had the Hays County deputy that was shot. We have the DPS trooper that was killed. Last week we were talking about the border patrol agents that were assaulted and murdered down at the border. It’s just every day it seems like there’s something new.”

The Hays County Sheriff’s Office believes deputies were “ambushed” Friday morning before 4 a.m. when responding to a call for an armed man trying to break into Jean’s Antiques in the 11500 block of Ranch Road 12 in Wimberley. Officials say the incident prompted a shootout that left the suspect dead and Deputy Benjamin Gieselman, 28, injured. Gieselman was flown to the hospital and is expected to survive. He was released from the hospital late Saturday evening.

HCSO Deputy Benjamin Gieselman

Texas Department of Public Safety Trooper Damon Allen, 41, was shot and killed in Freestone County on Thanksgiving day. Authorities say Trooper Allen pulled over a 2012 Chevrolet Malibu for a traffic violation. DPS says the trooper approached the driver, Dabrett Black. They say as Allen returned to his patrol unit, the suspect fired multiple shots from a rifle, killing him.

So, how do we move forward — trying to prevent other officer-involved shootings like these? Casaday suggests shifting the focus from the suspects who commit these crimes to the officers’ families affected by these tragedies.

“Not talking about the person that commits the act. A lot of times people want attention,” he said. “Don’t give them any credit. Don’t talk about them. Don’t give any radio or air play to anybody that commits an act like this.”

Casaday says it’s more important now than ever before that law enforcement agencies rally together to support the affected departments.

The Austin Police Association will send money to Trooper Damon Allen’s family and Casaday says he’s reaching out to Hays County to see how they can help their brothers in blue there, too.

It’s something law enforcement agencies across the state just do when crisis hits one of their own — a member of their “law enforcement family.”

“You have to. We’re out there — it’s the thin blue line, you know. We’re the only thing that is between our citizens and mayhem and craziness,” Casaday added.

Family members of fallen DPS Trooper Damon Allen will receive at least $20,000 from the local 100 Club in Houston. The non-profit helps financially support the families of officers killed or severely injured in the line of duty.

For more information about Austin Cops for Charities — the APA’s non-profit organization — click here.

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