Rolling Out

Naked and unarmed Black teen shot by police

David Joseph (Photo Credit: Twitter @OccupyAustin)
David Joseph (Photo Credit: Twitter @OccupyAustin)

No one knows what was going on in the mind of 17-year-old David Joseph when he was running naked through an Austin, Texas, apartment complex. But someone called 911 to report he was chasing people and acting erratic. The teen was a senior at Premier High School and was known as “Pronto” to his friends. He was a student-athlete and was scheduled to graduate this spring. Austin police officer Geoffrey Freeman responded to the scene and claimed that the unarmed Joseph refused commands and charged at him, forcing him to fire his weapon, killing the teen.  Both Joseph and Freeman are Black.

The family and community are outraged and are demanding to know why the police officer did not de-escalate the situation. Many have stated that based on Joseph’s behavior, he should have been treated as a person having a mental health crisis. Members of the Black Lives Matter Austin and the Austin Justice Coalition gathered for an emergency meeting at a local church.  Meme Styles of the Austin Justice Coalition stated, “We are not going to stand back and allow that to happen. Instead we are going to work together and have a proactive response.”

Officer Freeman has been on the force for over 10 years and has had only positive reviews. He is engaged with the community and has worked with a group that provides homes for troubled and abused children.   Freeman has been placed on administrative leave while the shooting is under investigation. An autopsy and toxicology must be done on Joseph to determine if he perhaps was under the influence of any drugs. Freeman is receiving legal representation from the Combined Law Enforcement Associations of Texas, which issued the following statement, “We encourage the community, while grieving, to have patience and allow the process to go forward until all of the facts are known.”

According to the Austin Police Department, the encounter was partially captured on police dash-cam video but there is no body camera footage.  The city has allocated $3 million for a limited body camera program that is expected to be implemented this summer.

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