An Austin, TX community is currently reeling from the loss of one of its brightest stars. David Joseph was a 17-year-old senior and varsity football player at Connally High School. The teen was fatally shot at approximately 9am on Monday, February 8th.
Officer Geoffrey Freeman responded to a call that a young man was “acting erratically” and “chasing” another male throughout an apartment complex. Upon arrival, Freeman encountered the teen who was naked and unarmed.
There’s minimal footage available of the incident. Freeman’s dashcam recorded him arriving to the location but Joseph was shot out of the camera’s range. According to NYDaily News, in audio from the incident, Joseph supposedly ignored Freeman’s commands.
Supposedly, Freeman, a veteran officer with over ten years on the force, feared for his life when Joseph allegedly charged towards him. Instead of using a taser or another method to subdue the teen, Freeman shot the young man who later died at Round Rock Medical Center.
It’s currently unknown why the teen was naked at the time of the incident. A toxicology report is currently underway to determine whether or not drugs or alcohol were present in the teen’s system.
Joseph’s family has since released a statement, “We are shocked and saddened. He was taken from us in an unexpected and violent way and (we) are struggling to understand how our child was stolen from us by the police.”
Assistant Austin Police Chief Brian Manley recently addressed the incident in a press conference. “We do value the sanctity of all life here at the department — both our officers and the communities,” Manley said.
The Texas Civil Rights Project (TCRP), local chapter of the NAACP and Black Lives Matter protestors have begun galvanizing and plan to be at the forefront of holding authorities accountable this senseless loss of life.
Despite the officer and the victim being black, Jim Harrington, Director of TCRP does not excuse the way in which Freeman handled the situation as an officer.
“There have been way too many police killings over the years simply because police do not know how to deescalate situations and end up resorting to violence. This has to stop” said Harrington.
According to Joseph’s friends, classmates and team mates, he was extremely popular at school. He was studious and on track to graduate early with plans of attending college in the fall.
“David was a real cool person. Everyone was really cool with him. He was outgoing, he was in sports for a while. He just wasn’t a bad person, so it’s hard to see someone like that in a situation like this,” says his friend Jayla Belvin.
Officer Freeman has been placed on leave as an internal and criminal investigation is underway. The Travis County District Attorney will present its findings to a grand jury. Stay tuned for the latest developments in the case.