Citizens review panel hears public concerns over officer involved shooting of unarmed teen

One month after the controversial shooting death of an unarmed teenager by an Austin police officer, the Citizens Review Panel is hearing the public's concerns.

The Austin Justice Coalition and the Black Lives Matter movement spent the evening protesting the shooting before marching to the meeting.

"When issues like this do come up, I think we have to continue to talk about them, so we can work through them and then get past them and become the city that we paint the city to be," said Cofounder of the Austin Justice Coalition Chas Moore. 

February 8th Austin police officer Geoffrey Freeman responded to calls that a man was trying to attack another man at an apartment complex.

While searching for the suspect Freeman spotted 17-year-old David Joseph standing naked in the street and gave him commands to surrender.
Investigators said Joseph charged at Freeman and was shot several times. Joseph was unarmed.

Protestors said the officer should have used less deadly means of handling the situation.

"For a ten year vet to shoot a naked 17-year-old teenager without even trying to de-escaslate the situation, without trying to understand what was wrong, is nothing less than a murder," Moore said.

Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo opened an internal investigation into the shooting. The first part of that investigation was completed, although Acevedo said it does not make any conclusions.

Thursday, the Citizens Review Panel heard public concerns about the incident so they can make a recommendation to the Chief.

"He is the chief of police and he gets to make the ultimate decision, but it allows him to have input from the citizens," said Austin Police Monitor Margo Frasier.

Activists said the fight for justice doesn't depend on the officers skin color. They want Freeman, an African American officer, to be indicted, charged with murder and imprisoned.

"It's police against everyday people. It's cop culture against the community. It's something in our system besides racism and this problem of authority that attacks people of color and poor people, so this cop could be any color," Moore said.

Frasier said how the public reacts at the panel could make a difference on the investigation moving forward.

"I welcome their input. I wish we would have citizen input at every meeting of the Citizen Review Panel because it is their panel and I think the community's input is a very important part of this process," Frasier said.

After the public comment period, the Citizens Review Panel will make a recommendation to Chief Acevedo.

They expect that letter to be given to the Chief early next week.

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