Austin Police Officer Caught On Video Pepper-Spraying Handcuffed Man
Above Photo: Austin Police Officer pepper sprays handcuffed man (Screen Capture)
The Austin Police Department has launched an investigation following the release of a video that shows an officer apparently pepper-spraying a handcuffed suspect.
The video, posted on YouTube by local police watchdog group Peaceful Streets Project, shows an officer opening the door to the back of a police van last week during the South by Southwest Festival.
“What’d I tell you about kicking the door?” the officer says to the subject inside.
“I didn’t do nothing,” the man replies.
The officer then sprays him in the face from a few feet away:
“What’d I tell you about kicking the door?” the officer repeats as the man falls backward and puts his hands to his face. “I told you.”
Peaceful Streets identified the officer as Cameron Caldwell.
“Wow, you asshole!” the person recording the footage yells. “I saw that, I got that on film, you abusive asshole!”
Police told the Austin American-Statesman that the incident is under investigation and asked that anyone with information call the Office of the Police Monitor at 512-974-9090.
After the incident, the witness recording the scene urges police to let the man out so he’s not locked inside a closed space after being sprayed.
“He’s under arrest, ma’am,” an officer tells her.
“Yeah I know — can you, like, keep him under arrest out where he can breathe?” she responds.
“He’s been fighting us for like 20 minutes,” an officer says.
“Oh you poor baby,” the woman answers.
The police department’s code lists a number of cases in which “chemical agents” such as pepper spray shouldn’t be used, including “when a subject is under physical restraint unless the subject is still aggressively resisting and lesser means of controlling the subject have failed.”
Peaceful Streets also said the code requires that officers ensure that someone who has been sprayed remain “upright with a clear airway… to avoid possible positional asphyxiation.”
However, in the clip, the officer shuts the door after the man falls backward, although he appears to moving back to an upright position as the door closes.
“Listen we see these cops violating policy and committing crimes all the time, but usually there is some gray area that they like to dance [in],” Antonio Beuhler, the activist who founded Peaceful Streets Project, told the Free Thought Project. “This was just crystal clear, there is no way by law or policy that what this guy did was acceptable. There is zero gray area.”