Top Cop Laments Violent|Arrest of Black Teacher

     AUSTIN, Texas (CN) — Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo apologized for the violent arrest of a black woman by white officers during a traffic stop in June 2015, of which one of the officers later made racially derogatory comments.
     In a Thursday press conference, Acevedo said there is a criminal investigation into the actions of the officers during the incident, which occurred on June 15, 2015.
     Video of the arrest was first obtained by local media outlets KVUE and the Austin American-Statesman, which posted the video Thursday.
     The released dashcam footage of the incident shows Breaion King, a 26-year-old black school teacher, being pulled over in a Wendy’s parking lot.
     After King gets out of her car, Austin Police Officer Bryan Richter tells her to get back in the vehicle and sit down. Richter is white.
     King says, “Are you serious?” Richter answers, “Yes ma’am, I’m not joking.”
     Richter tells her she is being stopped for speeding. He asks to see her driver’s license and tells her to put her feet back in the car and to close the door.
     The two continue talking, but King refuses to put her feet in her car. Richter then tells her to stand up.
     “No, why are you touching me,” King says. “Oh my God. Oh my God,” she says as the officer says, “Stop resisting.”
     The sound of the car horn in King’s vehicle can be heard as the two struggle by the driver’s side door.
     King finally says, “I’m getting out. Let me get out. Do not touch me.”
     “Get out of the car,” Richter says.
     The video then shows Richter physically removing King from the car and violently throwing her to the ground in the empty parking spot adjacent to her vehicle.
     In his arrest report, Richter claimed that prior to dragging King from her car, he saw her reaching for the front passenger side of the vehicle and did not know if she had a weapon.
     As King is forced to the pavement she says, “Oh my God, why are you doing this to me?” The video shows Richter struggling to get her to place her hands behind her back so he can place the handcuffs on her.
     King pushes her way back to a standing position, but Richter then spins her down to the ground again and is finally able to put the cuffs on her.
     King repeatedly exclaims “Are you kidding me?” as Richter gets the cuffs on her and lifts her off the ground by her hands, which are behind her back. Another officer, Patrick Spradlin, is shown arriving to assist in putting King in the police vehicle.
     The subsequent conversation between the officers and King in the squad car is also being investigated for possible racist overtones. It was captured on video.
     King asks from the back seat: “Do you still believe that there’s racism out there?”
     “Yes, I do,” says Officer Spradlin. “Let me ask you this. Do you believe it goes both ways?”
     “I believe it does,” King replies. “But I believe that — I’m not gonna lie, I believe that Caucasians have more supremacy over black people. They have more rights.”
     “I don’t think that,” Spradlin says. “Let me ask you this. Why are so many people afraid of black people?”
     “That’s what I want to figure out because I’m not a bad black person,” King answers.
     Spradlin then says, “I can give you a really good idea of why it might be that way. Violent tendencies. I want you to think about that. I’m not saying anything. I’m not saying it’s true — not saying I can prove it or nothing. But 99 percent of the time when you hear about stuff like that, it is the black community that’s being violent. That’s why a lot of the white people are afraid. And I don’t blame them.”
     Spradlin also said that some black people look “intimidating.”
     At Thursday’s press conference, Chief Acevedo said, “My heart was sickened and saddened when I first learned of this incident.”
     He said he was first notified of the incident in a call on July 19 from Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg. She told him the American-Statesman was doing a story on the incident involving King.
     Acevedo apologized to King and her family saying, “I’m sorry that on the day you were stopped for going 15 miles per hour [over the speed limit] you were approached in a manner, treated in a manner that was not consistent with the expectations of this police chief or most of the officers of this police department. There’s a way to do this job. On that day we did not approach it anywhere near where we should have approached it. I want to apologize to Breaion and her family.”
     Acevedo said that King did not file a complaint after the incident, but an internal police review determined the officers’ use of force was not done in a manner consistent with department policy. But the chain of command at the time opted to handle the incident as a training issue and with counseling, he said.
     He said he has ordered an administrative investigation into the traffic stop and will ask internal affairs to look at Richter’s conduct since the incident.
     Acevedo will order an administrative inquiry into the chain of command as to why the incident was not “kicked up” to his level.
     He also said the department’s special investigations unit will conduct a criminal investigation of the officers’ actions so that Lehmberg’s office can decide whether to present the case to a grand jury.
     Regarding the conversation between Spradlin and King in the squad car, Acevedo said: “For those who think that life is perfect for people of color, I want you to listen to that conversation and tell me that we don’t have social issues in this nation. Issues of bias, issues of racism, issues of people being looked at differently because of their color.”
     In a Friday interview with the American-Statesman, King said she appreciated Acevedo’s apology.”I am truly appreciative. I am grateful and I feel it is a step, the first step necessary. I feel we are starting to take the necessary steps in order for us to be able to come together as a community and as a nation,” King said.
     The charge of resisting arrest against King was dropped by prosecutors after they saw the video of her arrest, according to ABC affiliate KVUE.
     King has not filed a lawsuit. She is represented by Erica Grigg.

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