Police officer pepper sprays man handcuffed inside police wagon

Activists in Austin said an officer used unnecessary force when he pepper sprayed a man handcuffed inside a police wagon in the Caritas parking lot.

When FOX 7 contacted the Austin Police Department they said they were unable to comment on the video because all of their media relations staff left at 1 p.m. Friday, but the Peaceful Streets Project is demanding answers for the officer's actions.

Thursday night the Peaceful Streets Project, a group that monitors police activity in Austin by videotaping them, got the incident on camera.

The video starts after the man is already in custody, wearing handcuffs inside of a police wagon.

The officer opens the door and says, "What did I tell you about kicking the door?" before pepper spraying the man inside.

The Austin Police Association released a statement about the video saying, "We're aware of the video and it's easy for some to criticize those few seconds on tape, but what the video doesn't show is what happened in the hours that led to that moment. A full investigation will reveal more information about what led to the officer's actions."

According to Austin Police Department's chemical agent guidelines, pepper spray can be used to control a violent or resisting person, a person who presents a harm to others or them self, or a person running away from an arresting officer.

That person must be given a verbal warning and have time to comply before the pepper spray is used.

Chemical agents may not be used when a person is physically restrained, unless they are still resisting arrest or are unable to be controlled by other means.

The Austin Police Department released a statement that reads: "The Austin Police Department is aware of the incident captured on video and has launched an internal investigation. Anyone with information on this incident should contact the Austin Police Monitor at 512-974-9090.”

The Austin Police Monitor's job is to look into incidents involving police officers and decide whether to recommend an investigation into officer's actions.

In this case, police monitor Margo Frasier said she received several complaints about the video and suggested the department consider an investigation.

Frasier said she is unable to comment on whether this officer's use of pepper spray was a violation of police guidelines.
The Peaceful Streets Project said they will be out monitoring police activity during SXSW for the rest of the week.

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