APD officer suspended 60 days for misusing Taser, not properly de-escalating in March incident

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AUSTIN (KXAN) — An Austin police officer is suspended 60 days and is on one year of probation in the department after an internal investigation found he inappropriately used a Taser against a subject in March, an APD disciplinary memo says.

Thomas Childress was found in violation of Civil Service Commission Rule 10 after he deployed his Taser against a “passively resisting subject” and failed to properly de-escalate an incident March 13 outside a grocery store on Wood Hollow Drive, according to the memo.

The memo says Childress responded to a disturbance call involving a person with a skateboard threatening to hit cars near the grocery store. Once he arrived, Childress “exited his patrol vehicle and pointed his Taser at the subject while giving him verbal commands,” the memo says.

The subject eventually complied with the commands to get on the ground, but “continuously questioned the legality of the officer’s actions,” the memo says. The subject then complied with a command to put his hands on his head, but did not get on his stomach as Childress commanded.

The memo says then Childress told the subject he’d deploy his Taser if the subject didn’t fully comply with commands, even though the subject was on the ground with his hands on his head. Childress then deployed his Taser on the “passively resisting subject,” the memo says.

The memo says footage from Childress’ body-worn camera was pulled, and he was asked about it during the internal affairs investigation. Childress said he thought the subject would become combative if he didn’t use his Taser, but also said the subject was displaying passive resistance at the time he used the weapon, the memo says. It’s against APD code to use a Taser against a passively resisting subject.

The memo says Childress admitted to violating APD code, and expressed “sincere regret and contrition.” The memo also says Childress acknowledged he violated APD code regarding de-escalation of potential force encounters.

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