Austin police officers cleared in 2015 fatal shooting of distraught man
Three Austin police officers have been cleared for the deadly shooting of a possibly suicidal man with a BB gun.
Friday, a Travis County Grand Jury ruled no charges would be filed against those officers.
Around 3:45 a.m. on July 5, 2015, Richard Munroe called 911 and said he needed to talk to someone.
He refused to give his address, forcing police to search a three mile area near the cell phone tower his call came from.
After about twenty minutes, police located Munroe at a home on Golden Quail Drive in North Austin.
As they approached the house, officers said Munroe walked outside holding a gun. Police ordered him to drop it, but he did not.
During the call the dispatcher can be heard telling Munroe, “Please put that down. They're not going to understand. All they see is that and they won't understand.”
Instead, Munroe turned the weapon on himself.
During video released by the Travis County District Attorney, officers can be heard telling Munroe, “Put the gun down, put the gun down. Don't do this. Listen to me. Put the gun down, let’s talk.”
Then he sat down with the gun in his lap. One officer attempted to Tase him, but the Taser was not effective.
At that point Munroe pointed the weapon at officers.
On police dash camera video you can hear one officer tell Munroe, “My name is Officer Murphy with the Austin Police Department. I know you're on the phone with 911. We are only here to help you, okay? The last thing I want to do is hurt you. The last thing you want to do is make a decision you can never come back from.”
That’s when police fired. Officers and paramedics tried to save Munroe after he was shot, but were unsuccessful. He died at the scene.
“Just a tragic event and I know the officers will have to live with that for the rest of their lives and we feel horrible for the family of the decedent,” said Austin Police Association President Ken Casaday.
When police investigated Munroe’s gun, they discovered it was actually a BB gun.
“We have lots of BB guns that look exactly like the sidearm we carry every day,” said Casaday.
After listening to testimony from nine witnesses, a Grand Jury decided not to press charges on any of the three responding officers.
Munroe did admit to dispatchers that he had been drinking and was previously treated for mental illness.
The dispatcher who gained Munroe’s trust during his desperate phone call was still on the line when he took his last breath.