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Austin, Texas still in uproar over police shooting

Police Chief Acevedo

Police Chief Acevedo

Austin, Texas still in uproar over police shooting

Police Chief Acevedo

By Akwasi Evans From NOKOAThe Observer

     AUSTIN, TEXAS (NNPA) – If there is one message that Austin, Texas Police Chief Art Acevedo has tried to impress upon the African American community during his tenure it has to be “never run from a cop with a gun.” Although it is against Austin police policy for officers to shoot at a fleeing suspect, when African-American men run from an Austin officer with a gun, death often occurs.

Just last month Acevedo spoke to the Austin NAACP at their monthly meeting telling members to get the word out to young people that it is never wise to run from an officer who is attempting to question or apprehend them. NAACP President Nelson Linder agreed, but reminded Acevedo that citizens who are not involved in a crime have a right to run and a right to expect to wake up alive the next morning.

Larry Eugene Jackson was not at that meeting.

On July 26, Jackson walked up to the Benchmark Bank on North Lamar, but when he attempted to open the door that faithful Friday afternoon, he found it locked.

As Jackson rattled the door a bank manager appeared and exchanged words with Jackson. The manager then went back into the bank and told Detective Charles Kleinert that Jackson had given him a false name and when Kleinert went to the door Jackson turned and ran.

Kleinert immediately began to give foot pursuit without calling for backup, which is a violation of department policy.  As Jackson ran south toward Shoal Creek, Kleinert pulled his pistol and at some point fired, hitting Jackson in the back of the neck, killing the 32-year old father of three. Kleinert is now on paid leave pending an investigation. Jackson’s body is lying in a funeral home pending burial.

Police were inside Benchmark bank when Jackson arrived because they were investigating a robbery that had taken place there earlier that morning. It is unknown why Jackson went to the bank. Jackson’s had just left his three children – ages 12, 11, and 10 – telling the oldest to take care of the others until he returned. The children’s mother, Alexandria Gladney, is convinced the police didn’t have to shoot Jackson. “If you can’t tell me that he tried to pull a gun or knife on you, then why did you do it?” she asked. Police didn’t tell Gladney or Jackson’s family about his death for 24 hours.

Jackson was not in the act of committing a crime and he was not related in any way to the bank robber caught on camera walking into the bank. The police are alleging that Jackson was guilty of a “thought crime,” meaning the officer thought Jackson might have intended to commit some crime.

Mainstream media immediately began telling the public that Jackson had a criminal record. Williamson County records show that Jackson had once been convicted of a forgery.

No matter what story the police eventually concoct, this shooting is going to be extremely difficult for them to justify, according to experts. When Kleinart initiated his chase of Jackson, he was supposed to immediately call for backup. He never did. According to police procedure he never should have given pursuit in the first place. The policy clearly states, “Officers must continuously balance the objective of apprehending the subject with the risk and potential for injury to department personnel, the public, or the subject.” It goes on to say, “Officers must be mindful that immediate apprehension of a subject is rarely more important than the safety of the public and Department personnel.” And most importantly it says, “Mere flight by a subject who is not suspected of criminal activity shall not serve as the sole justification for engaging in a foot pursuit without the development of reasonable suspicion regarding the individual’s involvement in criminal activity.”

Nelson Linder of the Austin NAACP has no doubt that Kleinert was in clear violation of department policy. He also has little doubt that the department will seek a way to justify the shooting and the City Council will remain silent on this issue. He said, “If the government is not going to stop this kind of behavior, then we have no choice but as citizens to get involved ourselves and demand we hold them accountable ourselves.”

Jim Harrington of the Texas Civil Rights Project echoed Linder’s call for City Council accountability.  Harrington issued a statement last week saying the killing raises three serious systemic problems with the Austin City Council and the police. He said, “There have been six police shootings this year, three of which ended in death. That is unacceptable in Austin. . These shootings seem to indicate that the police are not being properly trained and supervised and are overreacting in situations, to the peril of the citizens.”

The ALCU and the Peaceful Streets Project held a press conference last Tuesday outside City Hall. Debbie Russell of the ACLU stated, “Austin has a very weak City Council.” She predicted that the police department is going to try very hard to convince the public that Jackson was attempting to commit some type of fraud. She said Jackson posed no immediate danger and should not have been chased. “He was not being detained, he was not committing a crime and the officer should not have engaged in a struggle,” she stated. Russell observed that Austin police “go after people not committing a crime, kills them, and then slanders the victim.”

Antonio Buehler of Peaceful Street was even more adamant.

“We have a right to run,” Buehler shouted. He said Kleinert had no right to follow Jackson and accused the police department of engaging in “multiple cover ups.” Buehler said it is time for Chief Art Acevedo to go.

Last month Acevedo told the NAACP that if they wanted him to resign, he would step down. The NAACP, TCRP, ACLU and NOKOA are calling on the mayor and City Council to step up. On July 30 NOKOA sent emails to all of the Council Members asking them, “What can, will, or should you do as City Council member to address the concerns of citizens who are annually losing loved ones to police bullets?” To date, none of them have responded.




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