Austin’s chief of police has had a bad week. First, a few of his cops were videotaped roughly arresting a woman for the crime of jaywalking. Then, in defense of his officers, he said that at least they aren’t raping people.
It started when police observed a jogger crossing a street against the light. When they stopped her, she apparently “failed to present ID properly.” Now, at this point the cops had two choices. Let it slide or brutally drag a screaming young woman to a police car and place her under arrest. They chose the latter.
Chris Quintero was sitting across the street at the time and decided to start to recording the incident when it was clear that it was spiraling out of control.
“I was sitting at the Starbucks at 24th and San Antonio,” Quintero said. “Then I hear a cop shout at an innocent girl jogging through West Campus with her headphones on.”
When she didn’t stop (she later told them she couldn’t hear their commands because she was listening to music), they grabbed her by the arm and threw on handcuffs.
“She repeatedly pleaded with them, saying that she was just exercising and to let her go,” Quintero said. [source]
The video of the incident was captured by Quintero, a University of Texas at Austin student, quickly went viral online, forcing Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo to respond at a press conference.
“This person absolutely took something that was as simple as ‘Austin Police — Stop!’ and decided to do everything you see on that video,” he said on Friday, according to 90.5 KUT. “And quite frankly she wasn’t charged with resisting. She’s lucky I wasn’t the arresting officer, because I wouldn’t have been as generous. … In other cities there’s cops who are actually committing sexual assaults on duty, so I thank God that this is what passes for a controversy in Austin, Texas,” Acevedo added.
The “it could be worse, we could be raping you” argument didn’t fly. Instead of making people less upset, it enraged people further over the lack of seriousness the police department was responding to charges of police aggression. Not to mention, Acevedo was suggesting that the public demand that police act in a professional and reasonable manner was tantamount to “overreacting.”
[product id=”” sku=”js04″]The day after the disastrous press conference, Acevedo made an apology for his language.
“During the press conference I attempted to place the arrest into context by bringing attention to the fact that law enforcement deals with many acts of serious misconduct,” Acevedo wrote. “This includes recent instances in the news of sexual assault by police officers in other cities. In hindsight I believe the comparison was a poor analogy, and for this I apologize. I stand committed to transparent leadership and will continue to engage the community we serve in an open, honest, and timely manner.”
What he hasn’t apologized for is how his officers mishandled the situation in the first place. No one but the police chief was comparing it to sexual assault, but the officers were still out of line.