Two officers from the Austin Police Department are under investigation for the violent arrest of a black school teacher last summer. Dash camera footage released Thursday night shows police dragging Breaion King out of her car, body slamming her, and telling her that “99 percent of the time,” blacks are responsible for violence.
The elementary school teacher was on her lunch break and parked in a lot last summer when two police approached her for speeding down the street moments earlier. She follows their orders to get back in her car, but doesn’t close her door when Officer Bryan Richter tells her to. Within seconds, King starts yelling in terror and is dragged to the ground by Richter. She cries and yells as the officer tries to cuff her. When she tries to stand, Richter slams her to the ground.
A second camera filmed King in the backseat of the police car, calmly asking Officer Patrick Spradlin about racism and policing. “I believe that Caucasians has more supremacy over black people. They have more rights,” King says. Spradlin responds, “I don’t think that,” and explains that white people are scared of black people because the latter have “violent tendencies.”
“I want you to think about that,” he says. “I’m not saying anything. I’m not saying it’s true. I’m not saying I agree with it or nothing. But 99 percent of the time, when you hear about stuff like that, it is the black community that is being violent. That’s why a lot of white people are afraid. And I don’t blame them.”
Watch the full video:
Richter was forced to undergo more training and counseling, shortly after the incident. King was later charged with resisting arrest, but prosecutors dropped that charge when they watched the footage. The incident is currently being investigated by Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg and the police department’s Special Investigations Unit.
Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo hosted a press conference Thursday, and said he is “sickened and saddened” by what happened.
“For those that think life is perfect for people of color, I want you to listen to that conversation and tell me we don’t have social issues in this nation,” he said. “Issues of bias. Issues of racism. Issues of people being looked at different because of their color.” He also apologized to King.
“Police officers have a sworn duty to try to calm things down, approach incidents, approach people in a manner that enhances the probability that everyone gets to go on with their day, especially over a speeding ticket,” he said.
Study after study shows that cops perceive black people as more dangerous and menacing than their white counterparts. Young black boys, for instance, are viewed as more threatening and guilty than white boys their age. When asked “Who looks criminal?”, officers repeatedly chose black faces.
Last year, FBI Director James Comey was applauded for acknowledging racist policing, but even he expressed bias against people of color.
“Likewise, police officers on patrol in our nation’s cities often work in environments where a hugely disproportionate percentage of street crime is committed by young men of color. Something happens to people of good will working in that environment. After years of police work, officers often can’t help but be influenced by the cynicism they feel,” he said. “A mental shortcut becomes almost irresistible and maybe even rational by some lights. The two young black men on one side of the street look like so many others the officer has locked up. Two white men on the other side of the street — even in the same clothes — do not.”