ACLU & Other Community Leaders Present Official Recommendations for APD/COA During Rocha Demonstration
For Immediate Release: ADVISORY
August 11, 2005
What: the Central Texas ACLU and other community leaders will hold a press conference and demonstration, urging the Austin Police Department and the City of Austin to implement three key recommendations designed to prevent the excessive use of force by APD against people of color that has incensed the Austin community for the last several years. Given the recent shooting of 18-year-old Hispanic Daniel Rocha, such respected figures as Rev. Sterling Lands, II and prominent community organizations as PODER, Buena Vista and the American Friends Service Committee agree with the ACLU that these recommendations would help to ensure that no more violent injustice is perpetrated by the APD in our potentially peaceful city.
Where: Austin Police Department, 715 E. 8th Street (the corner of 8th Street and IH-35)
When: Thursday, August 11, 2005, 5:00pm press conference and demonstration
Who: the Central Texas ACLU, PODER, the American Friends Service Committee, Buena Vista
Why: too many people of color have died as a result of excessive use of force by the APD, and many more have been wrongfully and violently treated. Abusive officers have not been held accountable, and it is long overdue that these injustices cease. By adopting a few very specific policies and practices, the APD could prevent such tragedies as have occurred with Sophia King, Jesse Owens and Daniel Rocha.
1) Institute accountable, documented and independent [of the patrolling officer(s)] handling of all patrol car video cameras and tapes, and have all video and audio recording devices in operation during all activity, not subject to arbitrary control by the patrolling officer.
2) Mandate pairing of proven (i.e. no history of excessive force, discrimination or suspension) veterans with rookies on the East side.
3) Institute a "Uniform Disciplinary Matrix" that makes officer punishments consistent from case to case, including mandatory termination for the most serious offenses. Per the latter, the adoption of this recommendation would induce the termination of Julie Schroeder, who shot an unarmed, 132-pound 18-year-old boy in the back at point blank range after he was already face down on the ground.
In addition to these recommendations, we will call for a public apology by Chief Knee to the Rocha family and to the community at large for the behavior of Julie Schroeder, and for the behavior of all of the officers who have used excessive force.