Police Chief To Critics Of Controversial Arrest: Hey, At Least My Officers Aren't Sexually Assaulting Arrestees

from the nicely-played,-Chief dept

When it takes four officers to apprehend a jaywalker — a very tiny jaywalker at that — how do you defend your department’s actions? Well, if you’re the Austin police department, you try several diversionary tactics ranging from bad to horrendous.

Here’s the setup. A Texas woman out jogging boldly crossed the street far from the lawful corners. This attracted the attention of two Austin PD officers who yelled at her to stop. When she failed to submit to their authority (most likely because she would have assumed that [if she even heard it over her earbuds] — like any other person crossing the street — shouts of “Austin police! Stop!” were intended for someone doing something much more dangerous/criminal), they stepped up their pursuit, ultimately grabbing her arm and demanding she provide some identification.

She further enraged the jaywalking patrol by a.) pulling her arm out of the cop’s grasp and b.) refusing to provide an ID card or drivers license. This turned jaywalking into an arrest for (if you guessed “jaywalking,” you’re wrong)… “failure to identify.”

Is that even a thing? Well, yes it is, but no, not in this case. Here’s the part of the statute that applies to the events in question.

(a) A person commits an offense if he intentionally refuses to give his name, residence address, or date of birth to a peace officer who has lawfully arrested the person and requested the information.

According to the report, the cops grabbed her arm and demanded ID. She refused. At that point, she wasn’t under “lawful arrest.” She was being (informally) detained, but not arrested. Police in Texas can’t just demand you show them ID. Ex-Cop Law Student breaks it down further.

OK, it is fairly simple. If you are under arrest [and] refuse to provide your name, date of birth, or residence address, you commit a Class C misdemeanor unless you have warrants outstanding, when it is a Class B misdemeanor. If you are either under arrest or lawfully detained, it is an offense to provide a false name, date of birth or address. The later is a Class B or A misdemeanor, dependent on whether you have outstanding warrants.

What is not an offense is refusing to provide your name, date of birth, or residence address when you are lawfully detained.

So, now that we know the Austin PD doesn’t really know the law its using to charge the jaywalker, let’s get to the defensive tactics.

First, from the Austin PD’s PR department:

The Daily Texan reached out to the Austin Police Department, where police spokeswoman Lisa Cortinas said police were working on “pedestrian enforcement.” Cortinas maintained that police weren’t targeting jaywalkers specifically, but instead focusing on pedestrian and bike safety overall.

Police Chief Art Acevedo backed this up:

Police Chief Art Acevedo says there is a lot more to the story. The officers were working on an initiative to cut down on pedestrian and bicycle violations. This week, they are focusing on jaywalkers.

Oh, OK. Officers are now busting jaywalkers because it’s the sort of thing the PD has generally overlooked in the past. Now, it’s apparently overcorrecting.

Here’s a second department spokesperson with more on the APD’s “pedestrian enforcement” initiative.

“I don’t think there’s any [jaywalking] initiative going on out there,” a second spokeswoman said.

OK. Um… The APD, contrary to statements made by another spokesperson and the Chief himself, is no longer pursuing the jaywalking initiative, if indeed, it ever was. But don’t worry, citizens. These courageous cops have managed to capture the head of the city’s worst jaywalking gang. No one needs to cross at the corner in fear any more.

But contradictory claims aren’t the only trick up the APD’s sleeve. Here’s Austin PD chief Art Acevedo attempting to tell the outraged public just how ridiculous it is to be making noise about this arrest.

First, he notes how he would have played the hardass card right out of the gate.

“This person absolutely took something that was as simple as “Austin Police – Stop!’ and decided to do everything you see on that video,” Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo at a press conference this afternoon. “And quite frankly she wasn’t charged with resisting. She’s lucky I wasn’t the arresting officer, because I wouldn’t have been as generous.”

Well, I guess Austin citizens are fortunate you’re only running the department rather than slapping additional bogus charges on jaywalkers. But Chief Acevedo has more, because the spoiled citizens of Austin truly have no idea how lucky they are that Austin’s finest are patrolling the streets.

“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.”


To be fair (certainly not because he’s earned it), Acevedo did apologize for the “you could be being sexually assaulted” comment. But he did so in the most self-serving way possible.

Yesterday’s press conference related to the arrest of a jogger by members of the Austin Police Department (APD) was the culmination of an emotional week for the APD, our extended APD family and me personally.

During the press conference I attempted to place the arrest into context by bringing attention to the fact that law enforcement deals with many acts of serious misconduct. This includes recent instances in the news of sexual assault by police officers in other cities.

In hindsight I believe the comparison was a poor analogy, and for this I apologize. I stand committed to transparent leadership and will continue to engage the community we serve in an open, honest, and timely manner.

Sorry about the rough week there, pal. That’s big city policing for you. If you’re going to focus on penny ante jaywalking (that somehow requires a 4:1 cops-jaywalker ratio to enforce), then you can’t be too surprised at the public’s reaction. Citizens like proportionate responses. This wasn’t one of them. And when it all gets too “emotional” to deal with rationally and your gut instinct is to tell the public they’re lucky the Austin PD isn’t sexually assaulting them, then it’s going to take much, much more than a small “I had a bad week” apology to dig yourself out of that hole.

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Comments on “Police Chief To Critics Of Controversial Arrest: Hey, At Least My Officers Aren't Sexually Assaulting Arrestees”

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jackn says:

This person absolutely took something that was as simple as “Austin Police ? Stop!’ and decided to do everything you see on that video,” Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo at a press conference this afternoon. “And quite frankly she wasn’t charged with resisting. She’s lucky I wasn’t the arresting officer, because I wouldn’t have been as generous

Where is the press at these conferences.

This question should have been asked, “Was she under arrest when ‘resisting?’

Baron von Robber says:

I think I’ve figured out what’s going on with the police in the US. Police exist in a parallel universe next to our own.
Only information may pass from the police universe (PU) to ours (reality). Light from our universe to their’s causes many disturbances, so they are acting with self-preservation (and continued employment) when they detect/seize and destory said videoing.

This explains also the descrepencies in their reports about these instances. What is a simple jaywalking, is instead, resisting arrest. Answering the door with a wii controller, is instead, assult with an AK-47. Or being a contracted NSA whistleblower, is instead, being a commie, treasonist spy.

Anonymous Coward says:

Police Chief To Critics Of Controversial Arrest: Hey, At Least My Officers Aren't Sexually Assaulting Arrestees

When ever I see cops doing things like this I always think of dirt harry, and “do you feel lucky punk?”, but if you watch the movie Dirty Harry does not just blow him away he waits until he is in real danger to fire.
Shoot first and ask questions later is something reserved for war zones.
“…instead focusing on pedestrian and bike safety overall.”

I’m sure she feel safe now.

zip says:

There was a time when all beat-cops carried –and used– loud whistles to get people’s attention. Is that not the case anymore?

Being at the edge of a major university, the area is bound to have a lot of in-shape headphone-wearing joggers who may need to be chased down a short distance in order to get their attention.

Someone needs to explain why the city would chose to assign obese cops to foot-patrol duty in such a place.

Those cops were so fat that I can understand them being angry at the jogger for making them run after her — and probably risk having a heart attack through all the huffing and puffing that she subjected them to.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

There was a time when all beat-cops carried –and used– loud whistles to get people’s attention

That was in the days before personal radios, and was a means of summoning aid. Because they had to rely on the local citizens to aid them if they were in trouble or needed other assistance, they were careful to keep good relations with those citizens.

Anonymous Coward says:

I was planning on moving to Austin, for the whole Google Fiber thing. But it sounds like by the time I would get there, the police will be brandishing AK-47s 24/7 and gunning down any passersby that look “suspicious”.

Last I heard, Google Fiber was considering opening up in San Antonio at some point down the line. Maybe I should stick with the monopoly telcos for now. Better my data gets capped than me…

Mr. Equator (profile) says:

I’m generally in agreement with TD when it comes to thug cops, but this is a pretty poor example. For starters, the video doesn’t show the incident that led up to the arrest. While resisting arrest is usually a catchall charge, it looks like she might actually have resisted, and in that case these cops really did act far more professionally than I’d expect. As for the chief, he didn’t say at least they didn’t raper her or even suggest that they might have. He said with other departments having to deal with such problems he’s relieved that this is the biggest controversy his department faces. I think that’s actually a reasonable statement.

Bad show from Techdirt on this one.

trollificus (profile) says:

The New "Coulda Been Worse" Defense

No, I think the Chief is on to something here. Let’s give the fine barristers of our nation time to incorporate the “Coulda Been Worse” Defense into criminal defense practice.

“Yes, Your Honor, defendant did indeed defraud these senile retirees of their life savings, but hey, he didn’t deflate the tires of their wheelchairs, and refrained entirely from decapitation!”

“So while burglary did take place, we ask the jury to take into account during the sentencing phase that plaintiffs’ house pets were not sexually assaulted, despite being quite attractive, and, as an ameliorative consideration, that their home was NOT burnt to the ground!”

Combined with an affluenza defense, plaintiffs might end up winning “speculative reverse damage awards” for their restraint.

Never underestimate the cleverness oif lawyers.

me@me.net says:

The bottom line here is....

1) This is taxpayer money at work: Jaywalking patrol equates a bunch of police that DON’T HAVE ENOUGH TO DO.

2) The comments made by the Chief should lead to his immediate dismissal and a check of the National Sex Offenders Database for his name….

3) Its a sad commentary that this kind of bullshit routinely happens in texas.

Michael W. Perry (user link) says:

Stupid meet stupid

None of this is surprising. Back in the 1970s I worked for a security company that had to be very careful who it hired. Many applicants were cop wannabes that police departments in Texas (then) had enough sense not to hire. But today many departments seem so caught up in meeting hiring quotas that they don’t have the time to ask, “Do we really want this person to be a cop?” The result are the stories we see in the news almost weekly.

That said, this incident does seem to be a case of Stupid meeting Stupid. Jogging with your music turned up so high and your attention so diverted that you can’t hear the cops calling out for you is stupid enough. Jaywalking while that incapacitated is even stupider. She’s lucky her encounter was with a cop and not a speeding car.

Anonymous Coward says:

Monopoly "Service"

So called “law enforcement” organizations in this country are never going improve so long as they continue to have their State enforced monopoly which individuals are forced to pay for (see: extortion/”taxation”).

Said organizations have no economic incentive to do good, as they get paid either way.

End their monopoly and extortion. Allow organizations based on consentual exchange to rise and compete in the marketplace. For a real world example of a consensually funded security organization, search “Detroit Threat Management Dale Brown”.

I prefer consensual relationships and voluntary exchange.

JD says:

daily Twitter insult

Since this police chief is a proto-fascist + pseudo-narcissistic media-whore, I’ve taken to tweeting him daily, snarkily asking if he’s commended any of his officers for not raping or otherwise sexually-assaulting any female Austinites, before concluding by calling him a misogynistic pig.

Not surprisingly, he hasn’t responded – but I recommended it as quite satisfying regardless!

Don’t remember his Twitter address off-hand, but just google his name+chief, it comes up as first result. Give it a try! Trust me, you’ll feel digitally-empowered, and like you’ve done as good a deed as can be done for no effort/substance via Twitter!!

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