Former APD police officer will not face criminal charges in Joseph death
Former Austin Police Department officer Geoffrey Freeman will not face charges in the shooting death of 17-year-old David Joseph.
On February 8th, Freeman responded to a call of a man acting erratically and aggressively in a Northeast Austin neighborhood. Officers say Freeman encountered David Joseph who was naked and unarmed. Officers say the teen ignored Freeman's commands, charged him and Freeman fired.
According to Joseph's autopsy report, he was running with his left arm across his chest. He was struck by two bullets fired at a distance of greater than 2-3 feet--once in the heart, that bullet grazed his hand and once in the leg.
The toxicology report revealed that marijuana, Promethazine (which is a histamine), and Alprazolam (which the family attorney says was Xanax) were found in Joseph's system.
FOX 7 obtained a portion of Freeman's interview with investigators in which he describes the reasons for his actions on the day of Joseph's shooting. It is as follows:
Q: Okay and, uh, tell me what - what was that plan?
A: The plan was to get there, um, y- you know, I knew I was close so I - there's a good chance I would probably contact the subject first. So my plan was to get there, uh, and - and based on his behavior and the past calls, him acting aggressively and chasing the Indian male. Um, also to him being aggressive with the person in the car. Also to the, uh, stuff that was mentioned in th- that suspicious person call where he was I guess being aggressively the day before with a jogger or something like that. And then I was thinking, I was like well and then, um, so the plan was to, ya know, I - I - I felt at that point in time when the kinda person I was dealing with, ya know, who could possibly be experiencing excited delirium or maybe a mental breakdown of some sort. That I needed to go at least start off with lethal coverage to hold him at bay until I had backup to get there. 'Cause the ultimate plan was going to be, is hopefully I get there, have him at lethal coverage and just give him commands to just basically stay where he's at. You know? Um, and then if I had gotten back up there, you know, we woulda been able to get someone with less lethal, um, get other units there maybe to come from the south and possibly surround him. And then at that point if we needed to do a takedown we could take him down. Um...
A: ...with different measures. But, you know, I got there and then of course he didn't give me that opportunity. He just charged right towards me. And - and totally ignored all my commands. I - h- ya know, and I had my gun out and he was rushin' towards me and I - I - I - I felt that he was going to - if he had gotten to me he could have knocked me to the ground. The gun could have come out onto the ground somewhere and - and - and then - or he could have grabbed the gun and we coulda been fighting over it and he could have taken it from me and - and either shot me and then now we've got a man that's high runnin' around with the gun, you know. And - and - and I'm down on the floor either hurt seriously or - or dead. And I shot. And, ya know, to keep that from happening.
Joseph's family spoke to FOX 7's Noelle Newton earlier this month and shared their side of the story.
An attorney for Joseph's family, Jeff Edwards, released a statement following news of grand jury's failure to indict Freeman. It is as follows:
Failing to secure an indictment when a police officer shoots and kills an unarmed, skinny, naked teenager, who the officer outweighed by over 100 pounds, is a failure of will by the district attorney, and calls in to question the entire grand jury process in cases involving police misconduct. This is a sad day for justice.
Fally Joseph, David's brother, also said in the statement, "Officer Freeman took David away from my family. He will never get to finish high school, go to college, have his own family, and take care of my mom like he always planned to."