AUSTIN (KXAN) - The Austin police chief is firing back at a local blogger who blasted his officers online.
He wrote that officers cornered him in East Austin with their stun guns drawn and accused him, a white man, of kidnapping his 5-year-old granddaughter because she is black.
On Tuesday, Police Chief Art Acevedo told a room full of reporters it did not play out exactly like that and he has the tapes to prove it.
"I cannot just stand by idly and watch our police department take a black eye, not just in Austin and in Texas, but around the country and around the world," said Acevedo.
He played the 9-1-1 call from an employee at the Millennium Youth Center in East Austin. She sounded frantic and thought Henson was kidnapping the girl.
"She was running from him and all I see him do was pull her by the hood of her jacket," said the out-of-breath caller.
A Travis County constable who responded to the call spotted Henson walking with his granddaughter on the sidewalk.
The young girl said he was her grandpa, but Henson refused to give his name. The two kept walking.
Austin police officers decided to follow up by stopping Henson again to ask more questions.
"In Mr. Henson's mind, a 5-year-old girl simply saying 'That's my grandpa is enough,'" said Acevedo. "The majority of abductions in this country are not stranger abductions. They're family members that abduct those children."
Police cruiser dashboard-camera video reveals officers did not have their Tasers drawn. They walked up to Henson and put him in handcuffs. After calling the girl's mother to make sure they were supposed to be together, they let both of them go.
"Had that been a real, legitimate kidnapping and we would have responded with one or two officers in a nonchalant manner, the same exact critics that are criticizing us now would be saying that the Austin police department did not care about an African-American little girl being kidnapped from the Millennium Center," said Acevedo.
The chief met with Henson and showed him the dash-cam video and let him listen to the 9-1-1 tape. Henson added the following correction to his blog post:
"I recollected in the blog post that an officer had a Taser drawn and from the video the officer's arm was only crooked and prepared to draw. It happened in a flash and like many eyewitnesses, when under a perceived threat, my mind filled in some pieces erroneously, I'll be the first to admit in light of the video evidence. It was not an intentional error."
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