Family claims APD used excessive force on man in downtown Austin arrest

A video circulating on social media provided to FOX 7 Austin shows 22-year-old Elisha Wright on the ground, pinned by Austin police officers on Sixth Street in downtown Austin on May 1.

"I couldn’t even look at it, but I knew I had to because I needed to see what they did to my baby," said Kathryn Wright, Elisha’s mother.

She said she knows her son did nothing to deserve what he got.

"It just makes me angry and sad. My son is not a hyped up kid, disrespectful like that," she said.

The Austin Police Department tells FOX 7 Austin that the officers were responding to a fight between four people including Elisha and his companion. They say Elisha wouldn't back down and tried to continue the fight.

"Whatever the officer said in that affidavit, based on what I’ve heard from witnesses and people actually involved in the altercation, that is false what the officers are saying in that affidavit," said Justin Moore, attorney for the family.

The family's attorney said Elisha is now facing an assault of a peace officer charge, which dug him into a hole.

"Elisha is now in handcuffs because due to this false arrest by police officers he has since violated the probation he was on already," said Moore.

Moore said he will fight to get the charge dismissed, and if needed file a civil lawsuit.

"The video clearly depicts Elisha being beaten brutally and savagely by multiple police officers in a gang style beating," Moore said.

The family is backed by the Austin Justice Coalition as well.

"The police department and the city are all too welcome to sweep these under the rug, and to let the videos slide down our timeline and slide out of our memory," said Chris Harris, director of policy.

Elisha sustained several injuries, and only received medical care after he was released from jail May 2, his family said. APD released the following statement to FOX 7 Austin:

The Austin Police Department is aware of a short viral video depicting a portion of an incident that occurred on May 1, 2022, at approximately 1:50 a.m. in the 400 block of E 6th St. This incident began when multiple APD officers in the area responded to a fight between four people, including Mr. Elisha Wright and his companion. The incident is captured more completely by body-worn camera video. Officers attempted to de-escalate the situation, but Mr. Wright and his companion sought to continue the altercation.  

Officers observed that Mr. Wright and his companion were the aggressors and took steps to arrest them. Mr. Wright hit an officer in the face with his fist, causing an injury before officers could arrest Mr. Wright and his companion. 

APD reviews officers’ use of force to comply with its General Orders and applicable laws.