YEAR IN REVIEW
COUNTING DOWN AUSTIN’S 10 BIGGEST STORIES
We’re counting down Austin’s 10 biggest stories of the year as chosen by American-Statesman reporters and editors. We’ll unveil one story each day through Jan. 1.
Today: We announce No. 5 | Previously in our countdown: No. 6
Two years of growing headlines over police shootings and a burgeoning Black Lives Matter movement boiled over in the summer of 2016 with a spate of deaths of black men and the slaying of five Dallas police officers.
In Austin, two cases of police use of force dominated the news.
First, a police officer responding to a disturbance call encountered 17-year-old David Joseph, who was naked and unarmed. Dashcam video showed Joseph ignoring officer Geoffrey Freeman’s commands and then running toward the officer. Freeman shot and killed Joseph in the middle of a street — a shooting that led to an immediate firestorm over Freeman’s use of lethal force. Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo, saying the officer’s conduct was not warranted, fired Freeman, a 10-year veteran of the department. A grand jury chose not to indict the officer.
In June, an American-Statesman investigation revealed the violent arrest of teacher Breaion King by an Austin police officer. Videotape of the arrest, which went unreported when it occurred in June 2015, showed officer Bryan Richter removing King from her car and twice throwing her to the ground because she refused to close her car door. In the patrol car after her arrest, a second officer, Patrick Spradlin, told King that police are sometimes wary of blacks because of their “violent tendencies.”