AUSTIN (KXAN) - An Austin police detective sergeant has been demoted to corporal and faces a 60-day suspension after admitting he used his foot to move a handcuffed suspect who was resisting arrest.
Chief Art Acevedo told KXAN that Detective Sergeant William Lefebvre also failed to tell his supervisor quickly enough about his actions.
"In this instance he fell a little short and has to suffer the consequences," the chief said.
Chief Acevedo says some police departments would have looked the other way for what he called a minor offense. But he says enforcing a professional standard is as important as setting one in the first place.
A report filed with Austin's Director of Civil Service, Mark Washington shows on August 8th, Sgt. Lefebvre was called to help with a handcuffed man resisting arrest at an HEB store at Oltorf St. and South Congress Ave.
That's when the chief says Lefebvre made two mistakes.
First, he put his foot on the suspect's chest to move the man farther into the rear seat of the patrol car. Afterward, the report says Lefebvre "failed to accurately report the incident or designate an appropriate supervisor to conduct a force inquiry as required by Austin Police Department policy."
Further, Lefebvre's actions went against the department's policy on responding to resistance. It says in part, while officers may find it more effective to improvise their response to rapidly unfolding conditions, "the use of any improvised device or method must still be objectively reasonable and used only to the extent which reasonably appears necessary..."
"Using your leg your foot to kind of kind of kick him…, probably under the circumstance, wasn't the best way to do it," the chief said.
Sgt. Lefebvre admitted making a bad choice which the chief gave him credit for. But the other mistake he made according to the report posted on the police monitor's website, was failing to tell his superiors right away.
A spokesman for the Austin Police Association says officers make mistakes on the job, just as Sgt. Lefebvre admitted to that day in August. Ken Casaday said now more than ever before, officers are held to a higher standard especially supervisors like sergeants.
Ken Casaday said, "Since Chief Acevedo's been here, there's more accountability. We've had many more suspensions over the last three to four years."
As of Friday January 18th, Det. Sgt. Lefebvre was demoted to detective corporal and can return to work March 18th. He also agreed to be removed from the lieutenant's promotional eligibility list.
Also his suspension means he can be denied future promotion within APD's ranks for up to five years.
Chief Acevedo said "I believe he's worth having. I think his best days will be ahead of him if he comes back and uses it as a learning moment."
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