'We Had a Tragedy Here in Austin'

City Manager dispells dark rumors surrounding David Rivas Morales's beating death this week.

City Council began their meeting on a somber note today, with City Manager Toby Futrell attempting to clarify some of the "misinformation and miscommunication" regarding the beating death of David Rivas Morales on June 19 this week, casting a ominous cloud on the evening's Juneteenth events.

While doing so "in no way to minimize the incident that did occur," Futrell sought to put "all the information in perspective." Citing unnamed, national news reports sensationalizing the incident, she dispelled some of the more inflammatory and racist rumors: that it had occurred as part of the evening's Juneteenth festivities (in fact, it was in an isolated parking lot), reports of 500 onlookers with none intervening (Futrell said there were only some 10 to 20 people outside, most prior to the incident, not egging on the beating), and reports of up to 20 assailants (she put the number at three to four).

Mike Martinez
and Sheryl Cole thanked the African-American and Latino – League of United Latin American Citizens, National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and others – community groups that got ahead of the incident, working to minimize any racial tensions which might arise.

Futrell promised an extensive press conference on the incident later in the day; after the jump, read the Austin Police Department Public Information Office's last update about the murder.

Courtesy of APD Public Information Office:

UPDATE THOMPSON STREET MURDER

At approximately 9:31 p.m. Central East patrol officers responded to a person down call at 900 Thompson Street. At approximately 9:32 p.m. an AISD officer who was in the area arrived on scene. APD officers arrived at approximately 9:37 p.m. The victim was not moved by the officers due to the possibility of complicating his injuries. Upon arrival, EMS transported David Rivas Morales, 40 (DOB: 04-09-67) to the hospital where he was pronounced dead. According to the Travis County Medical Examiner’s Office, the cause of death was due to injuries received during the assault.

Preliminary investigation indicates there was an auto pedestrian collision in the parking lot of 900 Thompson Street. Michael Hosea, Jr., 2 (DOB: 11-28-04) was accidentally struck by a Ford Taurus. Hosea was transported by private vehicle to the hospital with non-life threatening injuries.

Immediately following the collision, the driver of the vehicle was assaulted by several persons. According to witnesses three or four male subjects assaulted Morales when he tried to stop the subjects from assaulting the driver. During the initial assault on Morales, he was struck to the ground. While he was on the ground, a male suspect exited a Buick Roadmaster and assaulted Morales again.

The vehicle exited by the suspect was described as a maroon or red four-door Buick Roadmaster by one witness, but Homicide detectives have not ruled out the possibility that it could be a Cadillac; a vehicle which is similar in appearance. It is believed the vehicle was occupied by three black males.

The driver of the Ford was able to leave the area in his vehicle. The vehicle was recovered by police and the driver is cooperating with Homicide detectives.

Originally, it was reported that there was a crowd of 2,000 to 3,000 persons in the surrounding area because of a nearby Juneteenth festival. This led to speculation that the assault was related to the Juneteenth festivities. After obtaining additional information, investigators have determined that there were only about 20 people in the immediate area where the assault took place and it occurred nearly two blocks from any festivity. Information at this time indicates the driver and Morales were assaulted due to the collision involving Hosea, and it is not related to the Juneteenth festivities.

Detectives are asking anyone who may have witnessed this incident or who may have information about the suspects or suspect vehicle or the incident to call the Homicide tip line at 477-3588 or Crime Stoppers at 472-8477. Crime Stoppers will pay up to $1000 for information. Homicide detectives are also requesting individuals with photos and/or video of the incident to also contact the Homicide tip line. This case remains under investigation by Homicide detectives. This is the 11th murder in 2007.

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KEYWORDS FOR THIS POST

Police, East Austin, City Council, Crime, Toby Futrell, Juneteenth, David Rivas Morales

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