APD had a pretty rough weekend, PR-wise.
On Thursday, a young woman was detained and then arrested while jogging when she reportedly jaywalked in West Campus. After failing to provide identification, a group of four police officers arrested her.
Photos and a video of the encounter were taken by UT student Chris Quintero, who claimed that an officer ran after her and grabbed her by the arm.
Police Chief Art Acevedo didn't make the situation better when he commented the next day, “In other cities there's cops who are actually committing sexual assaults on duty, so I thank God that this is what passes for a controversy in Austin, Texas.”
Did you just do a double take too? Read more about Joggergate after the jump.According to Quintero, police officers had been standing on a corner in West Campus writing citations to passersby who were jaywalking.
At one point, the young woman wearing earbuds jogged past. An officer followed her and grabbed her arm, which she jerked away.
In his blog, Quintero wrote,
The cop viewed this as resisting arrest and proceeded to grab both arms tightly, placing her in handcuffs. She repeatedly pleaded with them saying that she was just exercising and to let her go. She repeatedly cried out, “I did not do anything wrong…just give me the ticket.” The other officer strolled over and now they were making a scene. She tried to get up. I doubt she was running away as she was in handcuffs, but the second cop pushed her back down to the ground. Because of the commotion, they walked her to the cop car in the alleyway next to Big Bite, where she, overcome with frustration, yelled loudly to gain attention. Because of that, the cops tightened their grip causing her to squirm and kick. Then came two bike cops from down the alley. We now have four cops and one small, helpless girl in the back of a cop car, because she was just going for a run.
After the incident received significant attention from local media, APD Police Chief Art Acevedo addressed the arrest at a press conference. Surprisingly, he vehemently defended the officers involved.
“Whether or not he grabbed her by behind it doesn't…it's not relevant,” Acevedo said. “At some point she knows it's a cop. The cop asked her a lawful question that she is lawfully required to answer and she didn't. That's why she went to jail.”
“It's kind of interesting what passes for controversy in Austin, Texas,” he added. “Thank you Lord that there's a controversy in Austin, Texas that we actually had the audacity to touch somebody by the arm and tell them 'Oh my goodness, Austin Police, we're trying to get your attention.' Whew! In other cities, cops are actually committing sexual assaults on duty, so I thank God that this is what passes for a controversy in Austin, Texas.”
I kind of understand the comment that Acevedo is trying to make, but he's not doing himself any favors by patting his officers on the back for not also sexually assaulting citizens.
Also, Art Acevedo doesn't get to evaluate how frightening it is to get grabbed by a strange person in the street until Art Acevedo is a woman who has endured street harassment.
The day after his interview, Acevedo released an apology, in which he said, “In hindsight I believe the comparison was a poor analogy, and for this I apologize. I stand committed to transparent leadership and will continue to engage the community we serve in an open, honest, and timely manner.”