AUSTIN (AP/KXAN) - An Austin police officer has been fired over a call about a suicidal man who later shot and killed himself.
The indefinite suspension of Officer Keith McCook was announced Thursday by Chief Art Acevedo.
The president of the Austin police union, Sgt. Wayne Vincent, said McCook will appeal. McCook was not immediately made available for comment.
A review found McCook on Sept. 17 was dispatched to a residence to answer a call about a woman concerned for her husband's welfare.
McCook spoke with the man, determined that the dispute was a civil matter, then left to go to dinner. McCook was called back to the home, was unable to locate the man and did not contact a mental health officer.
The man was found dead the next day.
In a memorandum, Acevedo said dinner plans led McCook to be negligent and the 8-year-veteran was already suspended in 2005 after an allegation of dishonesty.
Austin Police Association President Wayne Vincent said McCook plans on appealing his termination, but the process could be lengthy due to McCook's military duties, which include and upcoming deployment to Iraq.
"The decision will be made by a third-party hearing examiner and we are just here to safeguard that process," said Vincent.
Austin officers are given instruction on how to handle situations where a mental illness could be involved.
"It is our job to evaluate first and see if other resources are necessary," said Vincent.
Abraham Minjarez with Austin Travis County Integral Care helps educated officers and Travis County deputies on such illnesses.
"Because the police force is so large, it is a constant process trying to educate," said Minjarez who added that the police academy recently has required training on mental health illnesses.
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