Austin officers suspended for not properly reporting details of March use-of-force incident

Austin

AUSTIN (KXAN) — At least two Austin police officers were suspended for 90 days for failing to step in and properly report details on a March 12 incident involving force, according to city memos from Austin Police Chief Joseph Chacon.

Suspensions for both Officers Eric Perez and Katherine Alzola began in late September and will last through Dec. 26 and 27 respectively.

The memos state Perez, Alzola and another officer responded to an apartment in southeast Austin for an urgent, unknown call. One of the people there had a warrant out for his arrest and was recognized by Perez.

Perez and the other officer tried to detain the man to confirm the warrant, the memos say, but the man resisted. A fourth officer responded to help out, hitting the man’s back with a baton.

While officers were trying to get the man in handcuffs, the man inadvertently handcuffed himself during the struggle, the memos say. Perez then “completely secured” the handcuffs, without communicating that to the other officers.

Memos state the fourth officer deployed his taser against the man three times while he was handcuffed.

While officers were still on scene, Alzola asked Perez if he would turn off his body worn camera “so they could have an unrecorded conversation.” The memos say Perez did turn off his camera, and the two had a conversation.

The memos state once a supervisor arrived on scene, both Perez and Alzola gave the supervisor an “incomplete account” of the force used against the man. They also wrote up “incomplete” incident reports.

The memos say after a review, possible policy violations were found on the officer who used force. This officer’s actions were addressed in a separate internal affairs investigation, but the review also found possible policy violations from Perez and Alzola, including “failure to intercede,” or failing to step in to prevent further harm if the force being used isn’t reasonable.

Further investigation found Perez violated the duty to intercede order during the taser deployments, and Alzola violated the same order in reporting what happened to the man in the immediate aftermath of the incident.

In addition to the suspension, both officers agreed to be placed on a one-year probationary period.

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