By Brian Collister
Published: October 12, 2016,
AUSTIN (KXAN) – A day following the city of Austin’s motion to dismiss a civil lawsuit filed by Breaion King, who was slammed to the ground during a traffic stop by an Austin police officer, KXAN uncovers more video of the officer using force against people he’s arrested.
Officer Richter joined the Austin Police Department in late 2009. Records obtained by KXAN show Richter has charged 34 people with resisting arrest, more than any other APD officer in the past decade. In each of those cases, his superiors decided he did not use excessive force. After requesting videos related to Richter’s cases, KXAN was given more than a dozen dashcam videos of his use of force incidents.
In a 2013 case, when Richter made a DWI arrest, the suspect didn’t want to take the sobriety test, stating he wanted to call his lawyer. Another officer arrived to assist Richter in restraining the suspect. It’s unclear from the dashcam video what led to Richter striking the suspect in the leg with his knee and taking him to the ground.
The suspect’s girlfriend started recording the incident and Richter told her, “if you come any closer you’re going to jail.” As she began to walk away Richter chased her down and used force to place her under arrest.
His employment reviews show Richter leads his region in use-of-force arrest but his superiors often praised him for his work ethic and “uncanny” ability to ferret out felons. One superior reviewing Richter’s performance in 2011 and 2012 attributed his high number of resistance cases to a high frequency of felony arrests. Richter has also been involved in three officer-involved shootings, a review states. It is not clear from the review what part Richter had in those events.
Officer Richter also received a commendation for his part in a chase and arrest of a sex offender in May of 2015, among several other commendations for difficult arrests, according to department records.
Austin Police officers use force on black suspects at a higher rate than Hispanic or white suspects, even though African Americans comprise only 8% of Austin’s population, according to a new study, according to USA Today.
The study by the Center for Policing Equity is the first of its kind in that Austin police officials agreed to publicly reveal the findings before they were known, a template that could be used across the USA to better relations between police departments and the communities they cover, said Phillip Atiba Goff, the center’s president and co-founder, USA Today reported.
“While this is the beginning of this process in Austin, it is also the beginning of a process nationwide,” he told USA Today.
Use of Force Policy
After video of King’s arrest was leaked to the media, the department said they would look at making changes to their use of force policy. In August, APD changed their guidelines.
As a result of short staffing, “level three” use of force — the lowest level that involves controlling a subject with bare hands—was only reviewed up to the lieutenant level. Now that will include the commander overseeing that officer, as well as a peer commander from another chain of command.
The department says it is a short-term solution, and a committee is in the process of deciding what will work best in the long run.