Newly surfaced footage depicting a violent altercation between Austin, Texas, police and elementary school teacher Breaion King has investigators looking into the conduct of two white police officers involved in King's arrest.
Austin ABC affiliate KVUE reports that King, who is black, was stopped for speeding by officer Bryan Richter on June 15, 2015. After pulling into a parking lot, Richter explains in his arrest report that he became "increasingly concerned with [King's] uncooperative attitude," ultimately pulling the woman out of her car and violently slamming her to the ground during his attempt to handcuff her.
"Oh my god, are you serious?" King can be heard crying on footage from the officer's dash cam and obtained by KVUE and the Austin-American Statesman newspaper. When told by officer Richter to "put your hands behind your back!" King replied, "that's what I was doing."
According to the Statesman, King requested to be taken in for processing by a different officer, saying she did not trust Richter after her arrest. In a second video, King is seen in the backseat of APD officer Patrick Spradlin's squad car, discussing race and law enforcement. There, Spradlin asks King, "Why are so many people afraid of black people?”
"That’s what I want to figure out," King replies. "Because I’m not a bad black person."
"I can give you a really good idea, a really good idea why it might be that way,” Spradlin answers. “Violent tendencies. I want you to think about that."
"I’m not saying anything, I’m not saying it’s true, I’m not saying I agree with it or nothing,” he continues. “But 99 percent of the time, when you hear about stuff like that, it is the black community that is being violent, that’s why a lot of white people are afraid. And I don’t blame them."
While it’s unclear what transpired after King was taken into custody following the events depicted in the second video, she eventually paid a small fine for the speeding offense, and reportedly saw a doctor the following day for minor scrapes and bruises.
Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo has reportedly opened investigations into both officers actions, but since the incident occurred more than six months ago, the most he can do in terms of discipline is issue a written reprimand. According to the Statesman, Officer Richter was ordered to receive additional training and counseling after the incident.
"After reviewing both videos, I and our leadership team were highly disturbed and disappointed in both the way Ms. King was approached and handled and in the mindset that we saw on display in those videos,” Acevedo explained to the Statesman. “But there is another piece, which has caused concerns as to our review process and the systems we have in place."
The new footage of King's arrest comes as relations between black communities and police departments remain tense, following the shooting deaths of black men Alton Sterling and Philando Castile by police officers, and the massacre of five law enforcement officers in Dallas, Texas. That state has grappled in particular with allegations of police misconduct toward black women, most notably stemming from the 2015 jail cell death of Sandra Bland in Waller County.
Rosemary Lehmberg, the district attorney for Travis County, told the Statesman that her office is looking into the circumstances surrounding King's arrest and will likely bring a case to a grand jury. King's charge of "resisting arrest" was dropped after officials in the county attorney's office saw the previously non-public footage. King is also reportedly considering a lawsuit against the police department.
After apologizing to King on Thursday, chief Avocado denounced his officer's comments to reporters as racist, and concluded, "The lessons of APD is we still have work to do. We can never rest on our laurels."