Monday, December 15, 2008

Cop Watch: Austin Cops Pay Out Their Second $1 Million in 2 Months Time for Wrongful Death Shootings

Be careful in Austin, boy howdy.

Last month, the Austin City Council approved a $1,000,000 settlement in the case brought by Kevin Alexander Brown's family. Seems Kevin Brown, 25, was shot as he was running from an Austin policeman already under suspicion for using excessive force.

Brown was shot dead at the scene, only two days after the press announcement that the US Department of Justice was investigating the possible use of excessive force by members of the Austin Police Department.

This month, here comes the Austin City Council approving another $1,000,000 settlement -- this one for the shooting death of 18-year-old Daniel Rocha.

Rocha was killed during a traffic stop -- shot by a cop who said she was afraid he had gotten ahold of her (or her partner's) Taser and was about to use it on them. The Taser was found 10 feet away from Rocha's body.

Oh, and one interesting point to note: 18-year-old Daniel Rocha was shot in the back.

When Can the Cops Shoot to Kill?

Police are allowed to shoot - and even kill - when they are under the reasonable belief that either they or others are in danger of imminent (and possibly fatal) harm.

With Brown, running away hardly seems like a threat of harm. Let him go and you're totally safe, right?

With Rocha, even if he had a Taser those things aren't guns - they can stop you, they are painful, but they don't kill people. Plus, no one stopped to check and make sure Rocha even had the Taser ... talk about excessive force.

Will Two Million Bucks Send a Message?

Two million bucks. In two months time. Maybe paying that much money out of city coffers will make someone train these cops to stop and think.

Meanwhile, if you're stopped by a cop in Austin -- be very, very careful.


Austin American Statesman

Austin American Statesman

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