Austin Police

Update: The following announcement is posted on the Manor ISD website:

Photo by KUT News

The Austin Police Department crime lab is getting another round of scrutiny.

The Travis County District Attorney’s office announced yesterday they referred allegations of sloppy work at APD’s crime lab to the Texas Department of Public Safety and local criminal defense attorneys for review.

Photo by Nathan Bernier, KUT News

The shock and disbelief at Esme Barrera’s murder early New Year’s Day – shared in a stream of social media updates – is giving way to questions about the police investigation.

As the young and vibrant Barrera was friends with dozens, if not hundreds in Austin’s close-knit music scene and beyond (including, I should note, this reporter), the news of her death spread rapidly over Facebook and Twitter.

But while many posts are links to tributes and fundraising initiatives, many others are pointedly questioning the Austin Police Department’s response that morning, and the subsequent manhunt.

Photo courtesy of http://forouresmeb.blogspot.com

The death of 29-year-old Esme Barrera has prompted a public outpouring of grief as family, friends and members of Austin’s music community come to terms with her unexplained murder. Barrera was found dead inside her home on King Street around 3 a.m. on January 1, according to KXAN, after ringing in the New Year at the 29th Street Ballroom & Spider House just a few blocks away.

University of Texas police have released a composite sketch of a man believed to be responsible for at least one other sexual assault in that area early Sunday morning. 

"We do not know yet if the three incidents are related, but we are releasing information on all three incidents in hopes of alerting the public and also receiving information from the public," UT police said in an alert issued Monday night. 

UT police describe the suspect as:

  • Black Male
  • Aged 30 to 40
  • Approximately 6″, muscular build
  • Large, dark brown eyes
  • Last seen wearing a grey hooded jacket over dark-colored t-shirt and blue jeans

You can report information at APD's Homicide Tip Line at 512-477-3588 or Crimestoppers at 512-472-TIPS.

Barrera was active in Austin’s music community. She was a Girls Rock Camp Austin counselor and mentored bands. She was a regular at Waterloo Records, which posted the single word, “Heartbroken” on its Facebook page early this morning.

Local civil rights activists want Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo to fire Nathan Wagner, an APD officer who shot and killed 20-year old Byron Carter, Jr. May 2011. Carter was a passenger in a car that struck and injured a police officer. The teen driver was shot in the arm but survived.

Chief Acevedo has 180-days from the incident to make a decision. That deadline is Saturday. Acevedo today notified the State Attorney General that he is delaying a disciplinary decision until a criminal investigation into Wagner’s actions is completed.

In a press release, Acevedo said the delay was intended to protect “the ongoing criminal investigation and the integrity of the criminal justice process."

Every dot on this map represents a location where at least three collisions have occurred between pedestrians and vehicles since 2008. For the purpose of this map, cyclists are counted as pedestrians. The data was compiled by the Austin Police Department and placed on a map by KUT News.

Austin police have issued more than 200 jaywalking citations as part of a two-week crackdown that runs through Saturday. APD’s Highway Enforcement Command says it launched the campaign because of a high number of pedestrian deaths: 17 so far this year, compared to 7 in 2010.

Photo by Renee Silverman http://www.flickr.com/photos/reneesilverman/

People pulled over for suspected drunk driving over the Labor Day weekend may have their blood forcibly withdrawn by Austin police officers. It’s part of the so-called “No Refusal” policy that APD conducts over long weekends.

But this weekend, a new law will increase penalties for first-time offenders with a blood alcohol level of 0.15, almost double the legal limit of 0.08.

Photo by Justin Dehn for the Texas Tribune

Students have reached summer's end, though you couldn't tell by the weather.  The beginning of school year brings changes in some Capital Metro bus schedules. That includes the elimination of three bus routes that circulated MetroRail passengers throughout downtown from the Austin Convention Center.

Rick Perry Returns to Texas

Photo by Nathan Bernier for KUT News

The Austin Police Department launched a formal investigation after two police officers fired their weapons at a robbery suspect yesterday afternoon. APD Chief Art Acevedo says it started when a man allegedly robbed a gas station on South Congress near Pickle Rd.

"The first shooting was right here, just south of the Bel Air Motel, on the west side of South Congress," Acevedo said in a news conference near the crime scene. 

Photo by Kelsey Sheridan for KUT News

The Austin Police Department is implementing a new strategy to fight crime.

The Real Time Crime Center, a room filled with computers and TV screens at the police headquarters, will allow officers to monitor police radio traffic 24 hours a day and provide more information on handling a scene before officers arrive.

APD Commander Troy Gay, who's in charge of the new center, told KUT News that it was a "force multiplier"

"They’re almost like an extension of patrol," he said. "They’re watching what patrol is doing and then providing additional information at that time."

Photo for KUT News

The Austin Police Association is holding a ceremony to dedicate a hall in their new facility to the people who worked to restore safety during the Texas Tower shooting. Today is the 45th anniversary of the shooting.

The shooter, Charles Whitman, was a student at the University of Texas. A former Marine who grew up with an abusive father, he admitted to killing his mother and his wife in a suicide note.

The next day, Whitman began shooting people from the top of the Texas Tower with a sniper rifle. He climbed up to the top of the tower with hundreds of rounds of ammunition, water and food supplies.

Erika Aguilar, KUT News

Austin Police say they are trying to get to know the Rundberg and North Austin community better. The department invited residents to a meet-and-greet event Saturday in the Northgate Boulevard area.

Austin Police say crime in the neighborhood is higher than other parts of Austin, but is often not reported.

Photo by Katrina Tollin for KUT news.

If you see uniformed emergency response teams around the University of Texas' Wooldridge Hall this week, don't worry. The U.T Police Department and other Central Texas first responders will use the vacant building for training exercises through Thursday.

Sergeant Scott Weyland said UTPD tries to train in an empty building when one is scheduled for demolition, usually about once a year. Weyland says this week’s training will focus on “active-shooter” scenarios, including suicide-bomber and hostage situations.

Photo by Caleb Bryant Miller for KUT News

The Austin Police Department held another “No Refusal” weekend on Friday and Saturday nights, meaning officers can request a warrant to draw blood by force if a driver refuses a breathalyzer. It was the first time during the Republic of Texas motorcycle rally that APD implemented the policy. Last year, there were three alcohol-related fatal motorcycle accidents during the ROT Rally.

Here are the numbers from APD:

There were a total of 37 DWI's over the No refusal weekend.

Photo by Chris-Håvard Berge http://www.flickr.com/photos/chberge/

The Austin Police Department had planned to install 23 crime surveillance cameras downtown by the end of March this year. But that date has now been pushed back until October, in part because APD wanted to wait for the firm with which it is contracting to upgrade its video surveillance technology.

“It’s like the commercial where the guy buys the 3D TV, and then the truck pulls up with the sign saying, ‘New 4D TV,” Austin police commander Troy Gay told KUT News. “We want to make sure that we’ve got at least the most current of today, so we’re not automatically a year or two obsolete.”

The memorial service for 20 year-old Byron Carter, Jr. will be held Friday June 2 at 2:30 at Mount Zion Baptist Church.

Carter was shot and killed by APD Officer Nathan Wagner. Carter was a passenger in a car with a 16-year old driver who allegedly hit another officer and pinned Wagner, who then fired shots into the car, killing Carter and injuring the 16 year-old driver, according to an APD press release.

Image courtesy of the Austin Police Department.

Officer-Involved Shooting in Austin

The Austin Police Department is investigating an officer-involved shooting that happened late last night.  Police say drivers should expect detours or delays at 8th Street and the I-35 frontage road. 

Photo by Nathan Bernier for KUT News.

The Department of Justice has closed its investigation into the Austin Police Department. The investigation began back in 2007 after the Austin Chapter of the NAACP and the Texas Civil Rights Project filed a federal complaint over use of force against minorities.

The Justice Department said it did not find reasonable cause to believe that APD has engaged in a pattern or practice that violates the Constitution or U.S. laws. At a press conference Monday morning, Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo called the report one of the highlights of his career.

Image courtesy of the Austin Police Department.

SWAT Officer Fired Following DWI Charge

Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo has fired an APD SWAT officer who was charged with drunken driving in December. Police say Officer Michael Hamilton crashed his unmarked police car after leaving a colleague's party.  Six other officers were suspended between four and fifteen days for drinking while on call, driving city vehicles under the influence and failing to report these actions to supervisors.

Photo by KUT News

UPDATE 12:00 p.m.:  Austin Police are releasing more details about this morning's officer-involved shooting in Southeast Austin. 

Officials say a Hispanic man pointed a weapon at officers and fired at least one shot.  Officer Steven Pena, a three-year APD veteran, returned fire with several rounds from a shotgun.  The suspect later died at University Medical Center-Brackenridge. 

Police also say a witness told investigators that the suspect may have shot himself.  Pena has been placed on administrative leave, while the case is investigated.

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