Discrepancies noted in officer’s account of David Joseph shooting

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AUSTIN (KXAN) — An internal affairs investigation into the deadly shooting of 17-year-old David Joseph by an Austin police officer on Feb. 8 shows discrepancies in the officer’s account of the incident.

Geoffrey Freeman, fired by the department in March, told investigators he drew his weapon as he exited his police vehicle, but a witness contradicted that claim, according to documents released Thursday.

The witness said Freeman exited his vehicle, put one hand up towards Joseph and another on his holstered weapon. The man said Freeman did not draw his gun until Joseph was eight feet away.

When asked why he didn’t use a weapon other than his firearm, Freeman told investigators he didn’t have enough time to transition to another weapon.

In an interview with Internal Affairs, Freeman said he didn’t think about transitioning.

Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo said in March, “Based on the totality of circumstances, we didn’t agree that the officer’s use of deadly force was needed.” The chief concluded Freeman’s use of force “was not justified” and fired the officer.

In an interview with investigators, Freeman said:

The reason why I fired is based on some of the calls that we were getting — also just in the past with what I’ve observed from someone that can possibly be intoxicated or high on some type of drug, whether it be bath salts, K2, whatever the case may be. I figured at that point that he — and plus, he’d attacked somebody over at the apartment complex over there. I had no idea what his mindset was at that point so when he starting charging towards me, at that point I already had my gun up. I was telling him to give commands. He wasn’t listening. He wasn’t listening. At that point I couldn’t — the way he was rushing at me, I didn’t feel like I could holster, or make another move to get another option out at that time…”

Freeman filed an appeal to keep his job shortly after being fired. “His performance that day was well within his training and the law,” said Combined Law Enforcement Associations of Texas (CLEAT) general counsel Michael Rickman. “I think [APD] rushed to judgment. They rushed the investigation.”

Wednesday, the family of Joseph filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Freeman and the city of Austin. The suit claimed the city has not trained officers on using methods other than deadly force, have not addressed the problem of a staffing shortage and that the city discriminates against minorities.

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