A family in Austin, Tex., is questioning the circumstances behind the shooting death of an unarmed and naked teenager by a police officer.
The boy, identified as David Joseph, 17, was killed by 10-year veteran policeman Geoffrey Freeman on Monday while he was responding to reports of an incident at an apartment complex, the Austin Statesman reported. Both individuals are African American. Freeman has been placed on administrative leave. An internal investigation is underway and a criminal investigation has been planned, officials say.
According to Austin police Chief of Staff Brian Manley, Freeman had spoken with witnesses who said they saw one man chasing another through the complex. Freeman then received another call from neighbors not far from the apartments. When he arrived at that scene, he discovered Joseph lying in the street naked.
When Freeman approached Joseph he gave him commands, but the teenager charged at him and the policeman opened fire, Manly said at a press conference. The entire incident lasted only a few seconds. The incident was captured on Freeman’s police cruiser’s dashcam, Manley said.
“We want a full and fair investigation into what led Officer Freeman to kill David,” Joseph’s family said in a statement. “David had no weapon. We do not know what lead to his meeting with Officer Freeman, but we know that our David should not have been taken away from us. No family should have to suffer like we are today.”
Joseph was a charter school student at Premier High School and was set to graduate this Spring, according to the Statesman, and had planned to attend college in the fall.
Austin city council member Ora Houston’s district includes the area where Joseph was shot. She told the Statesman it appeared that Joseph was possibly having a mental health emergency, but Freeman should have called for backup and tried to manage the situation better.
“That didn’t happen; I don’t know why that didn’t happen,” said Houston who has worked in the mental health field. “Hopefully as we go through the process, we will figure out why didn’t that happen.”