Police watchdog nomination causing controversy at City Hall

A City Council nomination is causing controversy.

District 6 City Council member Don Zimmerman wants Antonio Buehler to serve on the city's Public Safety Commission

Buehler is no stranger to controversy. He is the founder of the Peaceful Streets Project, a grassroots police watchdog group.

Almost three and a half years ago, Buehler sued the Austin Police Department for police brutality. Since then, he has been one of their most outspoken critics.

"Their job is to review policy regarding public safety whether it's fire, EMS, or police or anything that touches public safety," Zimmerman said about the Public Safety Commission.

Zimmerman nominated the 37-year-old Buehler for the 11 member post. "We're kind of impressed with his background about being a decorated combat veteran, West Point graduate and graduate of Stanford business school."

But not everyone is impressed by Buehler.

"Antonio Buehler has an active lawsuit against the city and police officers and the Chief of Police in the Court of Appeals and we have documented behavior. He has been known to harass our officers. We believe in dissension but he takes it to another level," said Ken Casady, the President of the Austin Police Association.

Casaday has been vocal about his opposition to having Buehler on the commission.

"It's just this one specific person who shows a bias against the police department and we don't believe can be neutral in any situation concerning the police department," Casaday explained.

Buehler says his goal is to be fair and to represent an underserved community at City Hall.

"It's important that there's a voice for people who want reform and important that there's a voice for people who have been abused by police and a voice for people haven't been served by the city government when it comes to public safety," Buehler said.

A video, given exclusively to FOX 7 by the Austin Police Association, shows Buehler and others in a car allegedly having a confrontation with what they think is an undercover APD officer.

FOX 7's Elizabeth Saab reached out to Buehler about the video. He tells her the Peaceful Streets project has posted hundreds of videos to their YouTube channel and goes on to add the following:

"Out of those videos, 95 percent of them are non-incidents. The overwhelming majority of the remaining five percent are only antagonistic because we are responding to the police bullying us and violating our rights or committing crimes against us or other people."

Buehler also tells FOX 7, that the videos showing the cordial behavior between his Peaceful Streets Projects far outweigh those that are contentious.

You can visit the Peaceful Streets Project YouTube channel here.

The City Council will vote on Buehler's nomination on Thursday. There is also an item on the agenda to waive Buehler's residence status as he is not a District 6 resident; he lives just outside the city limits. Councilman Zimmerman says they routinely waive that requirement.

APA, for their part, says they plan to testify on Thursday against the nomination

 
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