AUSTIN (KXAN) — A man was killed Tuesday morning after an officer-involved shooting in southeast Austin, according to the Austin Police Department.
APD Chief Brian Manley said this all started when officers tried to pull over a car late Monday night near the 6400 block of south Interstate 35. The person drove away, and officers chose not to chase him.
Officers, instead, tracked the registration of the car, and when they spoke to the owners around 11:50 p.m., the owner told police they got a text from their son who said he had crashed their car near the intersection of East William Cannon Drive and McKinney Falls Parkway.
Police went to find the crashed car and found a different car that appeared to have crashed in a field at about 1:40 a.m.
The person in the car had a gun and pointed it at his own head while the officer “tried to talk him down,” Chief Manley said. For several minutes the officer tried to deescalate the situation, Manley said. Another officer arrived as backup with a ballistic shield.
At about 1:47 a.m. the man allegedly got up from the ground where he was crouching and raised his hands and pointed it at the officers like he was pointing a gun at them. Two officers fired their guns and the man was shot.
Emergency Medical Services personnel transported the man to South Austin Hospital where he was pronounced dead at 3:27 a.m. Police believe the man to be 27 years old, but that information is unconfirmed, Manley said.
APD responses to mental health related incidents
When asked about the deadly shooting, Ken Casaday, President of Austin Police Association, said, “It’s just sad, and this person might have been suffering from mental illness or other issues. We try to do the best to gain control of the situation, but when you introduce a firearm like it was introduced, there’s just no other option.”
Manley explained the entire incident was captured on body worn cameras and dash cams.
He said, “I can tell you from having watched the videos, there is an obvious attempt by that intial responding sergeant, during those several minutes when he was talking with this individual, to de-escalate, calm the situation, to tell the subject to put the weapon down. Things didn’t have to end this way.”
A neighbor nearby who didn’t want to go on camera also said his family heard an officer talking to the man.
“Our hearts at the police department go out to this man’s family,” said Manley.
When APD cadets undergo training, they receive 40 hours of education on mental illnesses and how to respond in situations that involve mental health issues.
According to a recent audit conducted by the City of Austin, patrol officers can choose receive an additional 40 hours of training to become a Crisis Intervention Team officer.
The audit found out of 1,827 officers, only about 41 percent, or 750 officers had received the additional training, and only 162 of those were receiving stipends for being mental health offiers.
The audit also said the training wasn’t adequate and made several recommendations to improve the department’s practices and protocols.
Since then, Chief Manley formed a stakeholders committee to review the department’s existing practices and protocols.
Casaday said about this incident, “It’s easy to sit back on your couh or your lazy boy and second guess police officers, but until you have to get up there and do it everyday, it’s best… everyone can have an opinion, but we’re the ones out there everyday enforcing law and having to de-escalate these violent situations.”
Both officers who fired their guns were part of the Austin police force for about a year and nine months. They have been placed on administrative duty as the APD Internal Affairs Department conducts an administrative investigation and the Travis County District Attorney’s Office also investigates.
Listen to Police Chief Brian Manley’s full comments to the press this morning: