Schroeder Sues Knee and City

Austin Police Officer Julie Schroeder, who was terminated last month in connection with the June 9 fatal shooting of Daniel Rocha, seeks an injunction to keep Knee from interfering with her ability to investigate and build a case that could result in her reinstatement

Austin Police Officer Julie Schroeder, who was terminated last month in connection with the June 9 fatal shooting of 18-year-old Daniel Rocha, on Dec. 6 filed suit against APD Chief Stan Knee and the city of Austin, seeking an injunction to keep Knee from interfering with her ability to investigate and build a case that could result in her reinstatement.

According to the court filing, Knee "ordered" APD investigators – presumably homicide and Internal Affairs detectives who worked the criminal and administrative inquiries into the officer-involved shooting – not to talk to Schroeder's attorney, Tom Stribling. Although the investigators told Stribling they were willing to be interviewed, Stribling wrote in the court filing, Knee "ordered such witnesses not to speak with [Stribling] or anyone else representing [Schroeder] concerning the facts [of the case] so as not to 'compromise' the City's case" against Schroeder. "As police officers, the failure to obey this order would be insubordination and would subject them to disciplinary action up to and including indefinite suspension from duty," Stribling wrote.

In deciding to terminate Schroeder, Knee disagreed with IA investigators' determination that Schroeder's use of deadly force against Rocha fell within department policy. Presumably, the alleged gag order would prevent Schroeder from gathering additional information about the investigators' conclusions – and, perhaps, from questioning Knee's motives for disagreeing with those conclusions. Knee and APD administrators were unavailable for comment, however.

Stribling said he isn't aware of any other case where Knee has attempted to similarly thwart an officer's ability to appeal their termination to an independent arbitrator, a provision of state civil service law.

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KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

Daniel Rocha, Austin Police Department, APD, Stan Knee, Julie Schroeder, Tom Stribling, officer-involved shooting, use of force, civil service law

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