An unarmed Black teenager was shot dead Monday by an Austin, Texas, police officer, who was clearly told by a 911 dispatcher that the young man was not armed, state officials confirmed Tuesday.
Another issue that is surfacing regarding the shooting is the fact that all Austin police officers are equipped with tasers, while officials have not yet wanted to speculate why it was not used in this case.
David Joseph, 17, was reported by witnesses of acting erratically and running naked in public, and when police arrived, Officer Geoffrey Freeman, who is said to be a veteran who joined the local police department in 2005, arrived on the scene he immediately pulled his gun and shot the boy. Freeman has since been placed on administrative leave.
The police officer, however, claims Joseph charged at him in spite of orders to stop. After being shot, Joseph was rushed to hospital for treatment, but died shortly after arriving.
“All of our officer-involved shootings are tragedies,” Austin Police Chief of Staff Brian Manley said to reporters during a press conference.
But Manley refused to respond to questions by reporters on whether Joseph was known to officers as possibly having a history of mental illness. Reporters also noted that a clear indication that the teenager was not well mentally was his lack of clothes.
All Manley had to say was that, “Now is not the day” to comment on this issue.
Local news outlet the Patch commented that this officer-involved shooting will likely reignite a dialogue about what many see as a disproportionate number of such incidents in Austin. They recalled that last year alone, there were three instances of an Austin police officer shooting a suspect dead in a span of just one week.
Local officials are expected to analyze the dashcam footage from Freeman’s squad car and he will be rendering a longer testimony of the incident.
— Nicole Chavez (@NicoleChavz) February 10, 2016
Joseph’s family released a joint statement saying, “Our family is devastated today by the loss of our beloved son and brother, David. We are shocked and saddened that he was taken from us in an unexpected and violent way, and are struggling to understand how our child was stolen from us by the police.”
The family added that Joseph was in high school and was “dreaming about going to college.”
The police killing of Joseph was condemned by the local head of the NAACP Nelson Linder, who said, “Once again it is very clear that this policy of response to resistance is not being enforced. They need to rethink this whole approach, especially if there might be mental illness issues.”
The Director of the Texas Civil Rights Project Jim Harrington said, “It is almost incomprehensible that a young naked man would be considered dangerous such that a police officer would kill him.” He also called for “a full, fair, and open investigation.”
Statement from the family of David Joseph, killed by an Austin police officer on Monday. pic.twitter.com/F6rSpSBulD
— Philip Jankowski (@PhilJankowski) February 10, 2016
In 2015, at least 1,134 Black people were killed by police. The statistics show that the rate of death among Black men was five times higher than white men of the same age. More than 25 percent of them were unarmed.
Also, in 2015, according to official figures, young Black men were nine times more likely than others in the United States to be killed by police officers, according to a study by The Guardian.
That same study revealed that despite making up only 2 percent of the total population of the United States, Black males between the ages of 15 and 34 comprised more than 15 percent of all deaths reported in 2015.
This content was originally published by teleSUR