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$8M in APD shooting settlements paid since 2005

The Austin City Council has approved a $3.25 million settlement with the family of David Joseph.

The lawsuit was filed against the city by Joseph's mother, Ketty Sully. Joseph was shot dead on February 8, 2016 by former Austin Police Officer Geoffrey Freeman.

Thursday's settlement is the largest police shooting death settlement in the City of Austin to date.

"The allegations are that Officer Geoffrey Freeman used excessive force when he shot and killed Mr. David Joseph," staff from the city's legal department explained to council. Council members voted unanimously to approve the settlement. "In the last year I've gotten to know some of David's family that lives in my district, and there's nothing we can do to fix this but this vote is one important thing for us to do," said council member Greg Casar.

The vote marked the sixth time since 2005 Austin has settled in an officer-involved shooting suit against APD.

"Money is not going to solve the problem. Money is compensation, but somebody's dead in that case and that's not a good thing," said Nelson Linder, president of the Austin NAACP.

Linder commended the city for handling Joseph's case quickly, but said use of force and police accountability must be addressed.

"I'm not saying all police officers are wrong. We're saying ... there are disparities here that should concern us if we care about the constitution and about justice in this city," Linder said.

According to an open records request, since 2005 the City of Austin has paid more than $8 Million in lawsuit settlements filed against the Austin Police Department in officer-involved shootings:

  • June 2005- Daniel Rocha, $1 million
  • June 2007- Kevin Brown, $1 million
  • May 2009- Nathaniel Sanders, $925,000
  • May 2013- James Barton, $50,000
  • July 2013- Larry Jackson Jr., $1.85 million
  • February 2016- David Joseph, $3.25 million

Four other cases are pending. Four more have been dismissed.

Police say Freeman shot and killed 17-year-old Joseph while responding to calls of a naked black male acting erratically just before 10 a.m. in the 1200 block of Nature's Bend.

According to police, Freeman gave commands to Joseph who did not comply. Joseph then charged at Freeman who ordered him to stop. Joseph again did not comply, police say, and he was shot by Freeman.

The incident was documented on Freeman's dash camera. A grand jury declined to indict Freeman for the shooting.

Last March, Freeman was fired by former APD Chief Art Acevedo. Thursday's $3.25 Million settlement will come from the city's liability reserve fund.

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