- CAMPUS LIFE
Community members rallied outside of Austin Police Department yesterday to protest the death of 35-year-old Ahmede Bradley, who was shot by Officer Eric Copeland during a traffic stop.
According to Fox 7 Austin, Officer Copeland pulled Bradley over in the 6000 block of Manor Road, but Bradley soon drove off. After eventually stopping his car Bradley ran from police and engaged in a struggle. Bradley was shot after allegedly trying to strangle Officer Copeland with his microphone cord and reaching for his gun.
“They are killing young Blacks for no reason at all. It is nationwide now,” said protester Marvin Calhoun. “I think it is racial. The guy didn’t do anything but run.”
Many protesters compared this incident to the Trayvon Martin case, which has grasped the nation’s attention for the past month.
Trayvon Martin was killed by neighborhood watchman George Zimmerman on Feb. 26 in Sanford, Fla. Zimmerman has not been charged because of the Florida “Stand Your Ground” law that allows people to use deadly force if they feel that their lives are in danger.
“Ever since the murder of Trayvon there has been a more heightened attention and a more serious conversation about how young black men are first seen as guilty and then evidence is sorted out after the fact,” said Snehal Shingavi, a UT English professor who was present at the rally.
Family members of Bradley received footage from a bystander that they feel shows APD trying to cover up something. They also claim that the use of force by Officer Copeland was extreme and unnecessary.
“The cops aggressively pursued him and he ran like I think the majority of people would do given the legacy of APD on the East side,” Shingavi said.
East Austin resident Ann Magana was present at the rally and spoke about continued abuse by APD and the need to change their use of force policy.
“The Austin Police Department’s history and policies on extreme and deadly use of force, primarily against minorities, is and has been systemic, reoccurring and unchanged,” Magana said.
APD’s current use of force policy calls for deadly force only when the officer “reasonably believes that deadly force is immediately necessary.” Under the policy, deadly force is reasonable in situations to protect the officer and others from the imminent threat of death or serious bodily injury.
50-year-old Eric Johnston was present at the rally to support APD officers. “I am here to back the officers. Nobody else is going to do it,” Johnston said.
Johnston, who held a sign that said “Back the Badge,” believes that people should wait for all of the facts in the case and not rush to judgment. “You do not begin screaming that law enforce is wrong or law enforcement is killing. You need all of the facts,” Johnston said.
During a news conference on Friday, Police Chief Art Acevedo urged people to “hold your final judgment” until facts are released in the case later this week. Dashboard video and 911 calls from the incident are currently being reviewed.