"I Was Afraid To Go Out": Says Woman in Violent Traffic Stop
“It was an out of body experience. All I could say was Oh My God, that's all I could think of God save me,” That’s how Breaion King, 26, describes the moment a traffic stop in June 2015 turned violent. Austin Police Officer Bryan Richter pulling her over for speeding.
King says she got out of the car at first, and was told to get back in. In the video, the two have an exchange, Richter asking King to put her feet in the car. King questions Richter, he then orders her to get out of the car again. “I wasn't understanding what was going on.” The conversation ended with Richter pulling King out of the car and throwing her on the ground.
Another officer, Patrick Spradlin arrived to take King to jail. In his dash cam video, she asks him about race relations. Spradlin responds with comments about why “whites are afraid of black people.”
“I was hurt by what he thought about not just me, but other people,” the elementary school teacher says of the ride, adding, “And he already assumed something against me. Because he didn't know who I was."
King was charged with resisting arrest. The case against her was dismissed in January. Richter, who has been with APD for 6+ years, it’s been reported received counseling and additional trading. Spradlin, an APD officer for nearly 15 years was not disciplined at the time.
“I was afraid to actually go out and do basic things that I used to enjoy doing," King recalls in the months following the arrest, ”I didn't know I could file a complaint.” So she decided to attorney Erica Grigg, “I was tired of hiding and living in fear, I prayed for justice and didn't know if I would get it." And she wanted to help send a message to her 2nd grade students, “ I wanted to show them that regardless of things and the situations and the circumstances of what they go through they can continue to come out on top, and they can be ok.”
“When police officers screw up they need to be held accountable," says Grigg. But because the arrest had been shelved for more than 6 months, by law, the Austin Police Department could, no longer take disciplinary action.
So Grigg pushed for the case to be re-opened, “These videos have been around for a year and that no one has watched them, or worse that someone watched them and put them aside."
Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo says he didn’t see the videos until recently, after the Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lumberg reached out to him. According to the Austin Police Department’s policy, use of force arrests are sent up the chain of command. How this one was handled, Acevedo vows will be a major focus of the internal investigation that he’s ordered. A separate criminal investigation has been launched too.
"I've forgiven you,” King says that’s what she would tell Richter and Spradlin if she saw them today, adding, “I hold nothing against you and I genuinely pray for you.”
During a press conference on Thursday, when the videos were released, Chief Acevedo says he is looking into how his officers can be better trained. Saying he was “sickened and saddened” over the stop.
"If someone is pulled over by police then they need to comply because we are talking about the here and now and how the officers are trained,” says Charley Wilkison, He heads up Texas’ largest law enforcement union, C.L.E.A.T. “People need to know that these are lawful orders, physical resistance in even the smallest way, that officer is trained to stop that.” And he says, regardless if the stop was right or wrong, “It falls right back that he was trained, recruited, hired, and trained by Art Acevedo, and the A.P.D, so whatever happens goes right back to the department,”
King says she hopes that as the investigation continues to unfold, that positive change will come, "no violence, no anger, no hatred,” adding, “Police are here to protect and serve. and we honestly feel like we still as a nation need to love and respect them too because they are humans too.