Austin Police Chief Defends Police Overreach: At Least It Wasn’t Sexual Assault

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Officers in Austin, Texas provoked public controversy last week after several cops forcibly handcuffed a woman out jogging as part of an initiative to curb pedestrian injuries. But Austin’s police chief only ratcheted up that controversy when he minimized the incident, saying at least his officers didn’t sexually assault anyone.

“In other cities there’s cops who are actually committing sexual assaults on duty, so I thank God that this is what passes for a controversy in Austin, Texas,” Austin police chief Art Acevedo said, according to reports by the Daily Texan. Acevedo later apologized for his comments, saying, “In hindsight I believe the comparison was a poor analogy.”

Last week, Acevedo said officers were focused on an initiative to curb pedestrian violations, stopping 28 people and issuing seven citations. A police department spokesperson told the Daily Austin the initiative was not just geared at jaywalkers, but “pedestrian and bike safety.”

Witnesses who saw the stop and arrest of Amanda Jo Stephen said they were taken aback when police pursued a woman who was simply out for a jog. “I hear a cop shout at an innocent girl jogging through West Campus with her headphones on,” said Chris Quintero, a UT-Austin student who was sitting at a nearby Starbucks. He said the officers then grabbed her by the arm and placed her in handcuffs as she pleaded that she had done nothing wrong, and several officers corralled her into a police car. Police said she failed to provide identification when asked.

Acevedo said of the incident, “All that young lady had to do when she was asked for her information was to provide it by law. … Quite frankly, she wasn’t charged with resisting, and she was lucky I wasn’t the arresting officer because I wouldn’t have been quite as generous.”

(HT: Jonathan Turley)