Austin Police Department

YouTube

The YouTube video that surfaced last weekend of an Austin Police officer pepper-spraying a suspect on Sixth Street has many questioning use of force by APD. In 2014, the department documented 147 incidents of the use of pepper spray, but when can they use it, how is it justified and how exactly does the review process work?

Let's take a look at APD's guidelines.

Nathan Bernier/KUT News

In the wake of high profile police shootings across the country, a lot of cities are considering equipping their police officers with body cameras

Today, Austin’s Public Safety Commission will vote on recommendations for Austin Police.

@ArtAcevedo

From Texas Standard.

Austin Police returned a pretty special Gibson guitar this week. It was one of only three produced. Willie Nelson owns one, Dan Rather owns one, and now, Walt Wilkins has his back. Wilkins is a singer-songwriter based in the Texas Hill Country.

Drunk Driving Awareness March

Apr 17, 2015
Anthony Green/KUT News

Austin police Chief Art Acevedo and Texas state representative Jason Villalba joined AAA Texas, community members and leaders Friday in honoring local lives lost to drinking and driving. 

A press conference was followed by a silent march around a cloud-covered Texas Capitol for the city's third annual March for Change. Last year, Texas drivers experienced more than 24,000 alcohol related crashes that resulted in over 1,000 deaths, according to the Texas Department of Transportation.

Miguel Gutierrez Jr./KUT News

This Sunday, the city of Austin will start ticketing drivers and cyclists who are texting or talking on their mobile phones without a hands-free device.

The Austin Police Department says they'll fine drivers up to $500, depending on several factors. For those who plead "no contest" and pay on time, the fine with court costs will total about $220.

Nathan Bernier/KUT News

Update (2:19 p.m.): Officer Andrew Pietrowski officially retired from the Austin Police Department on Friday, Dec. 12 after learning KUT would air his comments this week.

Original Story (9:07 a.m.): Police Chief Art Acevedo suspended two officers in November for making jokes about rape victims. The Austin Police Association said at the time that the respective three-day and five-day suspensions were "fair and appropriate." The incident took place after a local attorney had released a video in which the two Austin police officers are laughing and one of the officers comments: "Go ahead and call the cops. They can't un-rape you."

Recently, offensive comments were made to KUT's reporter Joy Diaz, while she was covering a police-related story. A quick warning: This story contains offensive remarks made about women. 

Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo is convinced APD's culture is changing for the better. And says comments like "[cops]can't un-rape you" are examples of behavior that he calls "[the] extreme minority."

Statistically, when you consider the couple of thousand police officers in Austin, he’s right. However, there are still regrettable police shootings and some minorities still feel targeted by police. But Austin is no longer the ticking bomb some say it was before Acevedo took over the department in 2007. Questions still linger, however, about whether or not APD is clearly letting its officers know that inappropriate comments will not be tolerated.

Take for instance the recent comments of Officer Andrew Pietrowski.

Trey Shaar/KUT

A former Austin Police detective has pled not guilty to manslaughter charges in the 2013 death of Larry Jackson, Jr. Charles Kleinert entered a plea of not guilty in a Travis County courtroom this morning and was released on bond after being indicted by a grand jury earlier this year.

His trial is set to begin on Apr. 20.

Jackson’s mother, Billie Mercer, was at the hearing, and said she didn’t want the trial of her son’s death to become a lightning rod for racial divides in Austin.

“I don’t like all the violence,” Mercer said in response to the recent flare-ups after high-profile cases in which officers weren’t indicted after involvement in the deaths of Michael Brown in Ferguson, MO and Eric Garner in New York. “I’m glad this isn’t a bunch of. . . fighting and tearing up the neighborhood. No, I’m not for that. I just want justice in the court system.”

Jenna VonHofe/KUT

At the Texas Capitol Thursday night, protestors gathered to show solidarity with demonstrators in New York, Ferguson, Missouri and other cities around the nation, demanding police be held accountable in several high-profile deaths at the hands of officers.

Filipa Rodrigues/KUT

Austin Police are giving more details of what they've found so far in their investigation of Friday's early morning shootings in downtown Austin.

Larry McQuilliams, 49, shot at several downtown buildings, including the Mexican Consulate and APD headquarters, before he was fatally shot by Sgt. Adam Johnson at approximately 2:32am Friday.

McQuilliams had the words "Let me die" written on his chest at the time of his death.

APD Chief Art Acevedo commended Johnson, saying the officer took only one shot from 312 feet away, to end the incident. 

Filipa Rodrigues/KUT

Update 2:40pm: The APD has officially released the name of this morning's shooter: Larry Steve McQuilliams (DOB: 12-13-1964)

Update 2:00pm: Chief Acevedo says the residence of this morning's shooter has been cleared and is safe to enter. The APD and FBI had been slowly examining the apartment in the Barton Hills neighborhood to make sure there were no explosives or traps left to harm law officers. 

Update 10:00 am: Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo says there were no explosives found on the body of the suspect in this morning's shooting in downtown Austin, nor were there any explosives found in the suspect's vehicle. 

At 2:22 a.m., APD started to receive reports of gunfire in multiple locations downtown, including the Mexican Consulate, the federal courthouse, and APD headquarters. Acevedo says the shooting occurred within the span of ten minutes. APD initially believed the suspect also fired shots at the BB&T bank, but later said the suspect did not target the bank. Officers believe more than 100 rounds were fired overall.

According to Acevedo, the officer involved in the shooting was putting away horses from an overnight mounted patrol when he saw the suspect shooting in front of APD headquarters. A source confirms the officer involved is Sgt. Adam Johnson, a 15 year APD veteran. 

"As he held two horses with one hand, he discharged at least one round with a single handed shot," Acevedo says. "That'd be one heck of a shot." Police are still investigating whether the suspect was killed by the officer's bullet or a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

Johnson is now on paid administrative leave, which is standard procedure after an officer fires a weapon at another person.

A Marriage in Transition

Nov 20, 2014
Filipa Rodrigues for KUT

Tonight, in cities all around the world, people will gather together to remember those from the transgender community who have died. It's called the Transgender Day of Remembrance. Austin's memorial will be at 6:30 p.m. at City Hall.

Tonight's speaker is Greg Abbink, the first transgender police officer in the Austin Police Department. He joined the force after serving in the Army. Back then, his name was Emily Abbink. This summer, Emily decided to transition her appearance to that of a male.

"Because even at five years old, I vividly remember asking my parents, 'Why did God make me a girl?'" he says. "I used to pray at night that I would wake up as a boy."

Filipa Rodrigues/KUT

By the end of July, there had been twelve SWAT operations so far this year in Austin. Naturally, every time a SWAT team is deployed it costs money. But it’s not always the same amount – weekends and after-hours are a bit pricier than, say, a mid-day operation.

But, no matter the time, every time one of Austin's three SWAT teams rolls out on a call, it costs thousands of dollars an hour.

KUT News

A Travis County grand jury is indicting a now-retired Austin Police detective in the shooting death of Larry Eugene Jackson Jr.

Detective Charles Kleinert is reported to have said that his gun discharged accidently in a struggle with Jackson in July 2013. As KUT reported at the time:

Brian Manley, assistant chief at APD, says the incident began as a detective was inside the Benchmark Bank at 1508 W. 35th Street, investigating a robbery that occurred at 8:19 A.M. Friday. The subject came to the front door and tried to open it, but the door was locked, Manley said.

"The subject walked away for a minute and then came back to the front door and attempted to open the door again … At this point, he got the attention of the bank management staff that was inside."

Nathan Bernier, KUT News

The Texas Civil Rights Project says law enforcement officers may be violating the U.S. Constitution when they execute warrants without knocking. The organization released a report Tuesday that says 70% of surveyed jurisdictions do not have written “no-knock” policies and that many other counties and cities may have inadequate policies or do not effectively implement those they have. Jim Harrington, TCRP director, says that is putting citizens and officers at risk.

“It’s dangerous both ways. We have to get away from this idea, well, we just don’t [knock]. You know any time we say it’s a narcotics warrant, we just don’t do it,” Harrington says.

Nathan Bernier, KUT News

Austin police are investigating an officer-involved shooting that occurred at 1:42 p.m. Saturday near Interstate 35 and Rundberg Lane.

According to Police Chief Art Acevedo, there were no injuries and the suspect is in custody.

The shooting occurred when a police officer responded to a car accident at a Shell gas station. The suspect, whose name has not yet been released, had struck another vehicle and was allegedly leaving the scene. When the officer tried to flag the suspect down, he did not stop and drove the vehicle toward the officer. The officer, whose name has also not yet been released, got out of the way. When the suspect stopped again, the officer told him to get out of the car, but he again drove the car toward the officer. That's when the officer fired several rounds at the car.

Joy Diaz, KUT News

The holidays can be prime for home break-ins – after all, that’s when people go out of town for a few days and leave their homes unattended.

But imagine what happens when an entire neighborhood is forced out of their homes – and the vast majority of houses remain uninhabited for almost three months. That’s the situation in flood-stricken Onion Creek in southwest Austin.

KUT

What can happen when a delivery to a women’s health clinic in Austin doesn’t follow protocol? Today we found out when the Austin Police Department blocked off the Whole Woman’s Health on North Interstate 35. It happened after clinic staff found two envelopes taped to two different doors of the facility early this morning.