APD focuses on narcotics issues where body found

In the midst of a push to reduce the narcotics problem along Red River Street in Downtown Austin, a man's body has been found in Waller Creek. Detectives said the cause of death is likely drug-related.

On Monday morning, downtown patrol officers arrested a man for a drug warrant. They encountered him along Waller Creek at the intersection of 11th and Red River.

On Sunday afternoon, in that very spot, a passerby found the body of 43-year-old Daniel W. Michael in the water. Officers say Michael was wearing a UMC Brackenridge issued gown after leaving the hospital against medical advice. Police said the cause of death is likely drug-related.

On April 15th, a woman's body was discovered in the creek at 4th Street. Her cause of death is unknown.

Waller Creek has a reputation for drugs and an overall "ick" factor.

"I wouldn't feel safe walking down there at night,” said Haleigh Holt.

In April, narcotics use in the area, particularly K-2, spiked with Austin-Travis County EMS reporting up to 50 patients a day. The mayor said he would make all resources available to help police get a handle on the problem.

"We put a plan together and with that plan we put overtime officers down there for 10 hours a day, 7 days a week. We also have officers that work quality of life for 10 hours as well,” said APD Assistant Chief Jason Dusterhoft.

Officers are focusing on Red River from 6th to 11th Street. Assistant Chief Jason Dusterhoft says since the increase presence began narcotics calls have gone down by 44 percent.

"I think this goes back to the broken windows theory. If you have cops present and you see people doing something wrong you can say 'hey officer there's this person doing this.' That makes a difference. When criminals see cops, guess what they don't commit crime.” said Dusterhoft.

Dusterhoft said a positive result doesn't mean officers will be scaled back.

Should toxicology results on the deceased confirm drug use, they will go after the source.

"If we found out this individual succumbed to K-2 we're definitely going to look back at how do we find the person who sold it and how do we make sure we hold them to the fullest extent of the law and give them a long, long jail sentence,” said Dusterhoft.

Regarding the man's death on Sunday, FOX 7 inquired about UMC Brackenridge’s policy for releasing patients. Hospital staff will not comment since this is a police investigation. Due to patient privacy laws we are unable to find out when he was in the hospital and why.
 

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