A Grisly Weekend for APD
Two officer-involved shootings, one viral use of force
Hours into last Wednesday's testimony over the proposed (and since-killed) police contract, Black Sovereign Nation founder Njera Keith raised the real-world reason why so many residents and community activists were refusing to accept a contract with limited reforms to transparency and accountability. "We are not comfortable with the city of Austin and the Austin Police Association sitting at a table and casually discussing what for us are matters of life and death," she said. She invoked the Dec. 12 arrest of Jason Donald, who was detained a day earlier outside of a convenience store on the southbound I-35 frontage road for jaywalking. (Police initially suspected Donald of selling drugs outside the ARCH, and ultimately booked him on charges of drug manufacturing or delivery and resisting arrest.) "The police officers are then seen on camera walking the young man around to the back of the store where they proceeded to beat him," Keith said.
The video, captured on a cell phone by a woman from her car in the convenience store's parking lot, went viral the next day, prompting a response from Police Chief Brian Manley. He noted the gap in the woman's video where she turns the camera onto herself and is seen making commentary. Several seconds go by before she exits her car and points the camera back onto Donald. When the camera refocuses, three officers are shown struggling with Donald. He is Tased, wrestled to the ground, and struck multiple times. "They're punching me," he yelled. Manley said later that surveillance video from the store showed Donald breaking free of his handcuffs during the period the other video cuts out. (The woman's footage shows one of his hands is free, as well.) The use of force that ensued, Manley said, was a result of that action.
That was just the start. In separate officer-involved shooting incidents on Friday and Sunday, officers responded to disturbance calls and interrupted assaults in progress. Friday's began early that morning, when police responded to a call on Lynwood Street in Allandale. There, 23-year veteran Officer Alfredo Delvalle said he came upon 50-year-old Aubrey Quentin Garrett, who was stabbing 43-year-old Andrea Faye Lindsey outside of an apartment complex. Briefing the media after the incident, Manley said Garrett attempted to continue the assault after he was shot. Officers on scene tended to Lindsey, but she died from her injuries.
On Sunday, eight-year veteran Jason Canales responded to a call in Northwest Hills after 911 operators reported hearing a man proclaim that he had a gun and was willing to use it. Another witness called in to say they had gotten what they interpreted as a suicide note from someone inside the home. Oddly enough, Canales found 59-year-old Quinton Wiles stabbing his boyfriend on the doorstep. After reviewing available body camera footage, Manley said Canales gave Wiles multiple opportunities to put down his knife, and shot Wiles when he continued his attack.
Both Delvalle and Canales are on administrative leave while APD's Internal Affairs division runs its investigations, which will be reviewed by the Office of the Police Monitor upon conclusion. That process won't go away under Texas Local Government Code Chapter 143, but the Citizen Review Panel will, so no public citizen will review any internal record of these cases, for whatever that has been worth.