Austin, Texas police officials fired an officer Monday for using excessive force in his fatal shooting of an unarmed 17-year-old high school senior, the New York Daily News reports.
Officer Geoffrey Freeman, a 10-year veteran of the force, had a range of options other than his gun to subdue David Joseph, who was reportedly naked: stun gun, pepper spray, baton, and a bean bag shot-gun.
“Officer Freeman’s decision to draw his weapon when he exited his vehicle was unwarranted,” Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo wrote in a memo, according to the Daily News.
On Feb. 8, Freeman was alone in his patrol car when he responded to a call about a young Black male running around the streets harassing people. The officer speculated to the dispatcher that the suspect was either high on narcotics, or had a mental illness.
Freeman, 41, spotted Joseph and got out of the patrol car with his weapon drawn. But under department policy, an officer is supposed to wait for back-up when a suspect is either high on drugs, or having a mental breakdown.
Joseph refused to stop and reportedly charged at the officer. Freeman shot at least one round, killing the teenager.
In an interview with KXAN-TV, brother Fally Joseph said the family is pleased that Freeman cannot shoot another unarmed Black man.
“When he took my brother away from us, he stole something no one can ever give us back. We are glad to know that the City of Austin thinks David’s life mattered, and that Officer Freeman will not be on the streets again,” he added.
A toxicology analysis uncovered traces of antihistamines, Xanax (used to treat anxiety and panic disorders), and marijuana in Joseph’s system, KXAN-TV reports. According to the autopsy, there was no trace of gunpowder on Joseph’s body, which suggests that Freeman shot the teen from a distance.
The Daily News said it’s unclear whether the department will issue a criminal charge against the former officer. In the meantime, Freeman has 10 days to appeal his termination.