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CLEAT Appeals APD's Firing of Officer Involved in David Joseph Shooting

Nathan Bernier

Today, the state’s largest law enforcement association formally appealed the firing of Austin Police Officer Geoffrey Freeman for the shooting death of 17-year-old David Joseph.

Attorneys with the Combined Law Enforcement Associations of Texas (CLEAT) filed the paperwork Thursday with the Austin Civil Service Commission, arguing that Freeman acted in accordance when he shot and killed Joseph last month. Freeman was fired on Monday.

CLEAT’s appeal decries the department’s charges that Freeman’s actions were out of step with APD policy, that he didn’t respond properly to Joseph’s resistance and that his actions showed a “lack of objective reasonableness.”

“It’s CLEAT’s belief that the officer acted properly given the circumstances he was faced with, and we intend to show that,” said John Mortiz, a spokesperson for CLEAT.

Freeman has contended that Joseph charged at him before the fatal shooting, and the CLEAT-penned appeal argues the disciplinary action taken by APD was unwarranted and “legally insufficient,” according to state and federal law.

Jeff Edwards, an attorney representing Joseph’s family, said in a statement on Facebook this week that Freeman’s termination was a good first step, but that “systemic problems in the department remain.”

Joseph’s brother, Fally Joseph, said in the same release that he was “glad to hear Officer Freeman will not hurt any other unarmed Black men.”

Freeman, who is also black, shot David Joseph on Feb. 8 after responding to reports of a naked, young black male acting “erratically and aggressively” on Yager Lane. CLEAT has previously characterized the incident as a symptom of city- and department-wide cost-cutting, criticizing the fact that only seven officers were working the area on the day of the shooting and that Freeman didn’t have “sufficient backup.”

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