AUSTIN (KXAN) — The Austin Police Department is launching an internal investigation after video surfaced of an APD officer apparently pepper spraying a handcuffed man in the back of a prisoner transport unit.
The video, published to YouTube by the Peaceful Streets Project, shows an officer opening the door to the transport truck and asking the handcuffed man “What did I tell you about kicking the door?” before spraying him. The man recoils and the officer closes the door.
The video continues to show police returning to the vehicle with a pitcher of water.
“I think it’s pretty simple, I don’t think anyone can justify it. It was clearly a crime committed by the Austin police officer that there was absolutely no justification for,” Antonio Buehler, with Peaceful Streets Project said.
Austin Police released the following statement after the video surfaced:
“The Austin Police Department is aware of the incident captured on video and has launched an internal investigation. Anyone with information on this incident should contact the Austin Office of The Police Monitor at (512) 974-9090.”
The officer’s attorney, Jason Nassour, told KXAN he’s dealt with Peaceful Streets in the past, and feels their approach is anything but peaceful.
“This video is not the whole story. It never is,” he said. “They rarely gives you the truth. They give you a little snippet. And their credibility is zero in my book. As far as how they go about portraying police officers and how they do their job.”
Jerry Staton, a use of force expert and retired APD officer, said, “We certainly don’t like seeing it. It is entirely possible the officer is going to end up being disciplined. But before we jump to conclusions, this is a small piece of video.”
He added, “There’s too many unanswered questions to know if this is a violation of policy.”
VIDEO: WARNING GRAPHIC LANGUAGE
The Peaceful Streets Project is a self-described all-volunteer and grassroots effort who monitors police activity in Austin.
“We’re aware of the video, and it’s easy for some to criticize those few seconds on tape, but what the video doesn’t show is what happened in the hours that led up to that moment. A full investigation will reveal more information about what led to the officer’s actions,” Andrew Romero, the Vice President for the Austin Police Association said.