Austin policeman being probed after slamming black woman to ground

Reuters News
Posted: Jul 22, 2016 11:02 AM

By Jon Herskovitz

AUSTIN, Texas (Reuters) - Austin, Texas, police on Friday were investigating the circumstances surrounding a traffic stop in which a white officer twice slammed a black woman to the ground while another officer later made racially charged comments.

The incident, which occurred in June 2015 and was caught on a police car dashcam video and broadcast on a local television station on Thursday night, was the latest in a series of recorded events that have raised questions about racial bias in policing. In recent weeks, police have been recorded in separate incidents in which they fatally shot two black men.

It was not clear why the Austin incident surfaced more than a year later.

The videos of the incident involving Breaion King, a 26-year-old schoolteacher, were obtained by the Austin American-Statesman newspaper and local television station KVUE this week.

The videos were sent this year to the Travis County district attorney's office after the office requested them from police. The district attorney's office, which was not immediately available for comment, is considering taking the case to a grand jury, the paper said.

King did not report the incident at the time and it did not receive attention until prosecutors flagged it in recent weeks, the paper said.

Officer Bryan Richter is shown pulling over King for going 50 miles per hour in a 35-mph zone. King steps out of the car, then gets back in to get her driver license and is told by Richter put her feet in the car so he can shut the door.

A few seconds later, he asks her to stand up, and grabs her. She is heard saying "Oh my God," and the officer says "Stop resisting," as the two struggle.

He then pulls King out and slams her to the ground. She stands up with her hands behind her back and is slammed to the ground again and the two again struggle.

"I never hit her. I didn't want to hit her, man, but she was fighting pretty good," Richter said to another officer at the scene, and captured in the dashcam video.

Later, as King is transported to jail by another officer, Patrick Spradlin, King and Spradlin talked about race and policing. King tells the officer she believes police can be biased against black Americans.

"I can give you a really good idea why it might be that way. Violent tendencies. And I want you to think about that," the officer responds in a recording from inside the police car.

Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo said at a news conference late Thursday he was "sickened and saddened" by the video of the arrest and the racially charged comments from the other officer.

(Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)