Fatal shooting of naked teen in Texas unfolded in 'matter of seconds': police

Reuters News
Posted: Feb 09, 2016 7:24 PM

By Jon Herskovitz

AUSTIN, Texas (Reuters) - The Austin police officer who fatally shot a naked and unarmed Texas teenager had confronted the suspect for a few seconds before opening fire, police said on Tuesday.

Officer Geoffrey Freeman told 17-year-old David Joseph to halt but the African-American teen charged toward the officer, who then opened fire in the Monday incident, Brian Manley, Austin police chief of staff, told a news conference.

Manley did not say how many times Freeman fired or how far apart the two were at the time of the shooting. Police did not release the video of the shooting.

"What is captured on the in-car camera when Officer Freeman gives his initial commands to Mr. Joseph and the time in which Mr. Joseph charges toward Officer Freeman was a matter of seconds. It was not a very long duration," he said.

Freeman, who has worked as an Austin police officer for 10 years, has been placed on administrative leave, Manley said. Manley did not give Freeman's race but the Austin American-Statesman newspaper said Freeman is black.

Austin police said they had received multiple phone calls of the suspect acting suspiciously and aggressively before they dispatched officers.

Reuters was not able to locate Joseph's family.

A criminal probe has been launched as well as an internal police probe, he said adding it may take about 30 to 45 days for tests to see if there were any drugs in Joseph's system.

The Austin killing comes as protesters in San Antonio are questioning if race was at play in the fatal shooting by police in the city to the southwest of the Texas capital last week of an unarmed black man.

"Two Texas officer-involved fatal shootings of unarmed black men within days is beyond tragic, because we have the answers to avoid these senseless deaths," said Terri Burke, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Texas.

(Reporting by Jon Herskovitz; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)