On Monday, Austin Police Department said Officer Geoffrey Freeman, a 10-year veteran in the department, would be fired for using unjustified lethal force against David Joseph, 17, in early February.
On Feb. 8, Officer Freeman shot and killed Joseph with two gunshots after the nude teen charged at him. The autopsy later revealed that the 17-year old was affected by a drug-induced delirium at the moment.
The teen’s brother, Fally Joseph, said he was relieved that the officer would be no longer able to hurt other ‘unarmed Black men.’ It is the first time in nearly a decade that a police officer in the city loses their job over a fatal killing.
The officer said that he had acted in legitimate defense since he feared that the adolescent may overpower him. He now plans to appeal the department’s decision. Prosecutors said that they wait for a grand jury’s decision on Freeman’s indictment in the next weeks.
The state’s largest police association, CLEAT, announced that it would fight to restore Freeman’s reputation and put him back to work.
The Feb. 8 shooting has sparked a new wave of indignation nationwide as the victim was not armed and naked. So, he basically had no ways to conceal a weapon. Black Lives Matter urged investigators to finalize the investigation in one month.
But Freeman’s supporters believe that the recent decision to fire him was unfair and politically motivated. Police Chief Art Acevedo told reporters Monday that the firing had nothing to do with activists’ political requests.
“My job is not to take a poll. My job is to make a call. That call has been made. It was made unanimously, and I stand by it,”
the police chief added.
Nelson Linder, chapter leader of the NAACP, believes the officer misegnaged the situation. Linder pledged that his group would push for police departments to enforce their own policies to prevent such incidents from reoccurring.
Freeman who is also African American said he had to shoot the teen because there was no other way to prevent a physical attack. The officer was in the area after he responded to a 911 call about a black male harassing residents in North Austin.
Initially, investigators were unable to tell why Joseph was naked at the time. But a recent necropsy report showed that he had consumed marijuana and Xanax before his death.
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