ANALYSIS: The Stephen Broderick arrest video — how do police safely detain people?


AUSTIN (KXAN) — Manor Police Department dashcam video shows exactly how Stephen Broderick, the suspect in the April 19 triple homicide in northwest Austin, was detained on Monday morning.

He was found walking along the road in between Manor and Elgin. There was no struggle when arrested, but he did have a loaded pistol on his waistband that officers confiscated.

If you take a look at the video, you notice there’s a brief moment when Broderick’s right hand, which appears to be directly next to the pistol, is free — while officers work to handcuff him.

Dr. Howard Williams is a lecturer with Texas State University’s School of Criminal Justice and Criminology Department. He watched Broderick’s arrest video closely. Williams has also worked for the Austin Police Department for 25 years and was the police chief in San Marcos for 11 years.

“That was textbook — that’s exactly the way that you’re taught to do it,” Williams said.

Williams said officers took complete control of the situation.

“They did what we call triangulate on the suspect, where there are some off to the left, and some off to his right,” Williams said.

KXAN asked if officers are looking out for someone’s free hand when arrested.

“If another fairly large person is standing right behind you, there’s no room for someone else to help you,” Williams said. “One hand holds the suspect, one hand holds the handcuffs to start putting them on.”

In Daunte Wright’s arrest in Minneapolis, police used similar tactics, and there was a struggle. Wright was fatally shot by one officer earlier this month.

“There’s really no comparing the two episodes,” Williams said. “[But] the difference between these two cases, [Broderick is] not in a car. He’s standing out on the street, and he’s surrounded by officers.”

Still, a situation can escalate at a moment’s notice. KXAN asked how officers can safely detain someone regardless of the circumstances.

“The simplest answer is you can’t always safely detain people,” Williams said.

We asked Williams if he thinks officers should be trained differently when handcuffing someone. He said the way it is done now is most practical, but noted police are always looking for better ways to do things. 

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