News & Politics

Austin Police Officer Shot On Duty; Just One City Council Member Gives Him Backup

(Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay.)

Early Friday morning, an Austin, Texas, police officer was shot in the line of duty in the city’s northeast. KXAN reports:

According to Interim Austin Police Chief Joseph Chacon, it began when someone called 911, saying someone in another car was shooting at them. Minutes later, officers found the 911 caller, who had not been shot. Officers then found the vehicle of the person they believed fired the shots.

Police say officers got behind the vehicle, turned on their lights and stopped the vehicle. As they exited their vehicle, the person in the car began shooting at them. Two officers returned fire.

One officer and the suspect both suffered gunshot wounds.

The suspect, who has not yet been named, opened fire on the officers and wounded one. The incident could have gone so much worse than it did. Any police call or stop can turn violent in a flash.

Friday’s incident marked the 4th APD officer shot on duty in 2021. That’s double the number of APD officers shot across all of 2020, according to the Austin American-Statesman.

A source familiar with the details of the shooting tells PJ Media that it was a “miracle” that both officers survived. Split-second action based on their gunfighting training saved them both, according to the source. The officers’ body cameras were activated and captured video of the shooting.

“Having watched all that video, it’s chilling, and we are lucky right now that we don’t have more people that are injured, particularly our officers, who in the face of this danger displayed bravery,” interim police chief Joseph Chacon said in a press briefing after the shooting.

The officer was taken to a local hospital and underwent surgery Friday morning. He has gone home and is expected to make a full recovery. Both officers involved are on administrative leave pending investigations of the shooting, per APD policy.

While the officer was in the hospital, most of the Austin City Council did not visit him or offer public support for him. Councilwoman Mackenzie Kelly (District 6) has only been on the job since January. Kelly visited the wounded officer and showed APD support by stopping by the headquarters of the Austin Police Association.

Austin
Austin Councilwoman Mackenzie Kelly visits APA after visiting a wounded APD officer who was shot in the line of duty.

Mayor Steve Adler did issue a tweet (about two days later, after his silence was noticed).

Austin’s city council voted unanimously to defund its police department by about $150 million in August 2020. Since that time, violent crime has skyrocketed in the city. The Texas Municipal Police Association made a direct connection between that vote and the rise in violence across Austin that has seen four officers shot in the first quarter of the year.

The Texas Municipal Police Association (TMPA) stated it supports any [new anti-violent crime] initiatives out there, but say it’s possible the increase in violent crimes may be a pitfall of budget cuts.

“We need to renew our efforts to provide law enforcement agencies with the resources they need to do their jobs,” Kevin Lawrence, the TMPA’S executive director, said. “Kudos to the interim chief for making this effort, and we’ll keep our fingers crossed.”

Just last week, PJ Media exclusively reported that APD is suffering a flood of officers leaving the force in the wake of the council’s massive budget cuts. If separations continue at their present pace, APD could lose about 10% of its officers in 2021. With police academy classes suspended until at least June, APD has no way to replace any of the officers it is losing. Friday’s shooting takes two more officers out of action for an undetermined amount of time.