The NAACP of Austin, represented by the Texas Civil Rights Project, announced today the filing of a second administrative complaint with the U.S. Department of Justice against the Austin Police Department (APD) and the City of Austin. The complaint alleges that APD has continued its systematic practice of racial discrimination and police misconduct (wrongful deaths, brutality, and unlawful and discriminatory searches) that disproportionately affects the African American and Hispanic community. Since the DOJ investigation from 2004-2007, APD has written new use-of-force policies. However, these policies are not changing the way officers act.
View Federal Complaint: NAACP vs APD [pdf 461 KB]
Ahmede Bradley, Nathaniel Sanders, and Byron Carter Jr. are only a few victims that represent more than just isolated incidents of police misconduct. What exists in Austin is a pattern of police abuse against the African American and Hispanic communities. There appears to be no event that will instigate real change within APD or the City of Austin. As such, the complaint asks the Department of Justice to renew its investigation of the police brutality and misconduct, require the Austin Police Department to give the Office of the Police Monitor (OPM) the power to subpoena testimony, officially support a diverse staff in the OPM, at all levels, and agree to assign independent, outside investigators to prepare cases concerning police officer misconduct before a grand jury.
The NAACP of Austin has attempted to reach out to APD and the City of Austin to prevent police brutality against African Americans and Hispanics, but that dialogue has failed to translate to action. OPM, specifically designed in February 2002 to create a method of civilian oversight, has acknowledged that when minority individuals are stopped by the police, they are searched more than twice as often as Caucasians. However, minority individuals are not more likely to be carrying contraband. There is no evidence that APD has taken action to remedy this problem. The message sent by these inactions to the African American and Hispanic communities is one of bad faith by APD and the City of Austin. Asking the Department of Justice to reopen its investigation in APD appears to be the only method to foster the change necessary to alleviate the justifiable concerns of the minority community.
APD has failed to take appropriate remedial action to discipline offending officers. APD has failed to train its officers in non-lethal force and has doubled its use of tasers. And APD has failed to work with Austin’s minority community to correct the problem of racial discrimination that clearly exists in and around Austin.
The suit seeks a withholding of federal funds to the Austin Police Department until such time as the remedial measures described on the other side of this page are implemented. Last fiscal year, APD received at least $2.4 million in federal funding.