APD Chief Brian Manley prepared to fully cooperate with department investigation


AUSTIN (KXAN) — Austin Police Chief Brian Manley said the department is ready to cooperate fully with an investigation after allegations of racism and other complaints arose about former Assistant Chief Justin Newsom and APD leaders.

The complaint, filed with the Office of Police Oversight, alleged that Newsom used the n-word to describe African Americans on multiple occasions.

READ: Anonymous complaint to City of Austin alleges former APD assistant chief used ‘n word’ to refer to African-Americans

Manley told KXAN Photojournalist Tim Holcomb on Saturday he felt it was important to send an internal letter to his staff about the complaint, explaining what he knew about the allegations and how they were handled.

“I think it’s very important to explain to the members of my department and to the community what I knew and the steps that I took so that they understand that the issue is being addressed and the manner in which I was approaching that,” said Chief Manley. “To be open and honest about if things could have been done differently, but at least for them to understand the reasons behind why I took the steps that I took and as a department why we’re taking the steps that we’re taking now.”

Austin City Manager Spencer Cronk announced Friday a decision to hire a third-party investigator to look into the allegations made against APD administration and into another complaint filed by the Austin Police Association. “It is critical that we bring the facts about these allegations to light and promptly address the results as we find them,” a statement from Cronk said. “Our entire community must have trust and confidence in our Police Department, and I believe this investigation will be an important step in maintaining and strengthening that trust.” 

The Austin Police Association called for an independent investigation last month.

In a statement on Sunday to KXAN, the Austin Police Association president wrote:

“We are glad to see the City Manager has taken the APA’s request for an outside independent investigator seriously and made the selection… We hope the investigation will proceed in a timely manner.”

Manley added that he is ready to fully cooperate with the third party investigator’s review.

“We put so much effort into building relationships and building trust in a community and we see that get impacted in a negative way, given what has taken place or what we’re looking at right now,” Manley said. “It’s important that we recognize how serious the allegations are and this investigation will uncover the steps that we’re taking leading up to and then afterwards.”

Read the full letter Manley sent below:


I want to provide you with information regarding the allegations of offensive racist comments made by AC Newsom…specifically what I knew, when I knew it, and what I was doing about it. I understand there are concerns over my handling of these allegations and I want you each to know the steps I took. Being fully transparent, here is the timeline:

I was first made aware in late September when AC Newsom let me know he was contacted regarding his upcoming testimony in an arbitration hearing. He said he was informed there was a text message the defense team planned to confront him with and he was concerned about it. I directed him to contact city legal to make sure they were aware, and I was not informed on any specifics regarding the content of the text at that time. I was awaiting the outcome of AC Newsom’s testimony to determine the next steps, but the hearing ran longer than expected and his testimony was postponed until the hearing resumed in Mid-October.

Prior to the hearing resuming, I received an email from a gmail account on October 7 alleging AC Newsom had made racist statements, that other department personnel were aware he has made similar statements in the past, and it included a specific derogatory and racist comment he was alleged to have made about fellow APD officers. The email did not reference when this was alleged to have occurred. The email was time stamped at 1:49 pm. I immediately (at 3:25 pm) that same day forwarded the email to the Office of Police Oversight and the City Manager’s office with the following message:

I have removed (name from email account) and Tony from this response and added ACM Arellano. These allegations are obviously very concerning but we really need a lot more information from Mr. (removed name). Can you make contact with him and see if he can provide the texts (if he has them) or at least identify who showed them to him so we know where to start looking?

The complainant had indicated he did not want to be contacted for fear of retaliation so I wanted the police oversight office to attempt to gain additional information. After several weeks, I still had not heard back from the OPO so I reached out to the Monitor, Farah Muscadin, and asked her if they had been able to obtain any additional information. She said she needed to check with her staff and got back with me a day or two later to let me know they were unable to get a response. 

This was around the time I was leaving the country for a week, and while I was away the Office of Police Oversight received a letter/email with additional information on several racist and derogatory comments about specific APD officers, a former council member, and our former President. AC Gay called me while I was in Mexico to let me know the OPO received additional information (but he had not yet seen the email and didn’t have the specifics at that time) and he was working with the city manager’s office, the OPO, and city legal. AC Gay advised me he was meeting with OPO and our assistant city manager the next day to discuss the information and how to proceed. He called me a short while later to let me know AC Newsom had called him and told him he was retiring and the paperwork and keys to his car were already on his desk. I instructed him to work with city legal regarding the circumstances of his retirement and what benefits he would be entitled to under the contract provisions.

I returned home Sunday November 3rd and met with my assistant city manager on the 4th. I requested a meeting with him and the city manager to discuss these allegations along with the APA’s request for an independent investigation. That meeting was scheduled for Thursday the 7th. I chose to not say anything to the Department about my handling of this incident until now because I needed direction from the city manager on whether or not he had concerns with me putting this information out given the investigation I expected him to conduct. I met with him yesterday at 5:00 pm and explained that I felt it was important that I be able to put this information out now given the concerns I had been hearing about how it had been handled. He understood the importance and approved me providing information to the Department.

To summarize, I immediately forwarded the email I received to the OPO and city hall noting my concerns and requesting follow up from the OPO. I did not inform AC Newsom of this at any time, nor did I communicate with him about the additional information prior to him choosing to retire. 

I hope this information highlights that there was no attempt to hide anything here, but instead it was immediately referred to the OPO. 

In closing, I want you each to know that I find the alleged comments extremely offensive, inappropriate, unprofessional, and racist. These comments have never been, are not, and will never be acceptable, tolerated, or ignored. I appreciate everything you each do daily in service to our community. I understand and share the disappointment (and other emotions) many of you have over this issue, and the fact the allegations were against a senior leader in our Department magnifies that.

Please accept my apology for what has happened to this point and know that I was taking steps to address what had been brought forward. As has been widely reported, the city manager has called for an independent investigation into these allegations. I will fully cooperate with this investigation and work to remedy any issues that may be identified.

Stay safe,


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