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APD Officer Shoots At, Misses Driver of Car That Ran Red Light

Joy Diaz/KUT News

No one was injured this morning when an Austin Police officer shot at a 58 year-old man at the corner of 12th Street and Airport. But the incident is likely to, once again, raise questions about the use of lethal force by Austin police.

APD says the incident started as a routine traffic stop just a few minutes before 8 o'clock when a truck ran a red light. After the truck was pulled over, police say the driver got out of the vehicle and walked towards the officer making the stop.

APD Chief Art Acevedo reviewed video from the scene and mimicked the officer’s commands for reporters to hear: “Get back in the car! Get back in the car!,” shouted Acevedo. He said his words were “something to that nature.”

After those commands, Acevedo says the officer shot once aiming to kill the driver when the driver’s hands moved as though to reach something. Police say the officer fired because he felt threatened.

Chief Acevedo says the video will be crucial in the on-going investigation. “Could it reasonably be interpreted as a suspect or an individual going for a firearm?” asked Acevedo. He said that can’t be determined by “[taking] one quick look at a video.”

No firearms were found on either the man or his truck. The man was sent to the hospital after experiencing what police called a “panic attack”.

The officer is on paid administrative leave, which is standard procedure for these types of incidents. 

Texas Standard reporter Joy Diaz has amassed a lengthy and highly recognized body of work in public media reporting. Prior to joining Texas Standard, Joy was a reporter with Austin NPR station KUT on and off since 2005. There, she covered city news and politics, education, healthcare and immigration.
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