Cop Fired for Shooting Naked, Unarmed Teen

David Joseph killed by Texas officer who says 17-year-old charged him on Feb. 8
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 22, 2016 10:31 AM CDT
Cop Fired for Shooting Naked, Unarmed Teen
Austin Police Department officers investigate the scene of an officer involved in a shooting in Austin, Texas, on Feb. 8, 2016.   (Deborah Cannon/Austin American-Statesman via AP)

(Newser) – Officer Geoffrey Freeman had a stun gun, pepper spray, a baton, and a beanbag gun at his fingertips when he confronted a 17-year-old running naked through the streets on Feb. 8, the New York Daily News reports. Instead, the Texas cop with 10 years on the Austin police force drew his firearm and shot and killed high school senior David Joseph, who was unarmed, and the Austin PD on Monday fired Freeman for those actions, calling it excessive force. "Officer Freeman's decision to draw his weapon when he exited his vehicle was unwarranted," Police Chief Art Acevedo said. Freeman, 41, responded to complaints from several residents that morning that a young black man was bothering locals and chasing a man. "Sounds like this guy could either be, he's 10-86 (subject with mental illness) and losing it or high or something," Freeman, who is also black, told a dispatcher.

Because the suspect was possibly "displaying symptoms of substance-induced excited delirium," Freeman was supposed to wait for backup, per KXAN—but instead got out of his car and drew his weapon. Freeman warned David not to come closer, but David reportedly rushed him, and Freeman fired, just out of view of his cruiser's dashcam. Per an attorney for David's family, autopsy and toxicology tests showed no gunpowder residue on David's body (meaning Freeman and David weren't in an "up-close struggle") and that David had Xanax, pot, and antihistamines in his system and wasn't a drug-induced danger, Fox 7 reports. "My family is glad to hear that Officer Freeman will not hurt any other unarmed black men," David's brother said in a statement. Meanwhile, the Combined Law Enforcement Associations of Texas and the local police association say David's death was what the Austin Chronicle calls an "unwelcome byproduct of insufficient training." It's not yet known if Freeman, who has 10 days to appeal, will face criminal charges. (Read more excessive force stories.)

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