Breakdown: Austin Police ‘Body Slam’ Breaion King
Austin Police ‘Body Slam’ of Black Teacher, Breaion King, Resisting Arrest
Austin Police Department dash camera footage shows an officer arresting Breaion King, a black teacher. King is clearly shown to be resisting arrest in the video. The incident had occurred in June 2015, but is just now coming to light because King has just recently hired a lawyer and is considering a civil lawsuit.
King’s arrest may look brutal to the public, but it was completely justified. Explanation after the break:
Breaion King after she passed Officer Bryan Richter while going 15 MPH over the posted speed limit. Officer Richter attempted to stop King by activating his lights and siren. Rather than stop, King whipped into a nearby parking lot and then exited her vehicle. Officer Richter calmly explained to King that he was stopping her for speeding.
“Ma’am, you’re being pulled over right now, so I need you to take a seat back in your car,” he says.
“Are you serious?” King replies.
“Yes, ma’am,” he says. “I’m not joking. Can I see your driver’s license? You’re being stopped for speeding.”
“But I’m already stopped, so technically can you stop me?” King asks as she removes her license. “‘Cause you didn’t pull me over because I’m parked.”
“Ma’am, you were about to go inside without a wallet, so I know you were only coming here because you know I was coming to pull you over,” Richter responds. “I can absolutely pull you over if you are already stopped, yes. Let me see your driver’s license.”
After Breaion King attempted to elude Officer Richter, and gave the good ole, “You can’t stop me because I already stopped” excuse, she continued to be uncooperative. Officer Richter asked King to sit back in her vehicle, so that he could contain her in case she tried to leave again. That was the correct decision by Officer Richter. He was already dealing with somebody who was uncooperative and tried to walk away. King then refused to comply with Officer Richter’s order to get back into the car.
The US Supreme Court has ruled that police officers can control the people that they stop, including ordering them out of the vehicle (Pennsylvania v. Mimms.) Officer Richter had no idea who King was or why she was not being compliant. An overwhelming majority of traffic stops involve compliant people, and when somebody is failing to comply, it’s abnormal and there is always reason for concern. Based on King’s attempt to elude Officer Richter, and her continued refusal to cooperate, Officer Richter had good reason to frisk King for weapons. A frisk would ensure that King’s resistance could not escalate into armed resistance.
A frisk for weapons is just a quick pat-down of the outer clothing to ensure that somebody is unarmed. Performing a frisk would have increased the safety of both Officer Richter and King. Officer Richter could remove any weapons from King, ensuring his safety, or verify that King was unarmed, increasing her safety.
Officer Richter ordered Breaion King to stand up. At that point, King was legally obligated to comply with Officer Richter’s orders, but she failed to comply. Officer Richter was already concerned about the possibility of weapons, and with King’s continued refusal to comply with Officer Richter’s lawful orders, he reasonably would have been even more concerned for his safety. Officer Richter’s safety concerns were immediate, and it would have been unreasonable for him to delay by continuing to try to convince King to comply; it would have just given King more opportunity to access any weapons. Remember, Officer Richter doesn’t know who King is or what her intentions are, and he’s only requesting that she stand up for the safety of both of them.
Officer Richter had an obligation to control King, and with her failure to comply with his verbal commands, he went to the next level of force by attempting to physically control her. Officer Richter grabbed King to get her stand her up. King pulled away from him and resisted Officer Richter’s attempts to physically control her. King escalated from passive resistance, noncompliance, to active resistance, physically fighting Officer Richter’s efforts to control her. At the moment that King escalated to active resistance, not only was she certainly committing a criminal offense, Officer Richter would have been legally justified in striking her or using a weapon such as a Taser or pepper spray in order to get King under control.
You may be thinking that King was a small female, and so Officer Richter should have been able to control her without using weapons. Officer Richter no doubt would have agreed with that assessment, which is why he used less force than he was legally allowed to use.
You can see in the video that the car was shaking and hear Officer Richter remain calm as he repeatedly ordered King to stop resisting. Once Officer Richter got King out of the car, he tossed her to the ground so that he could control her by placing her in handcuffs:
Breaion King fought the entire time. Despite King’s efforts to fight Officer Richter’s control, Officer Richter continued to use less force than he was legally allowed to use in order to control King. The fight would no doubt have been over much faster had he used a Taser or pepper spray. In the end, Officer Richter was able to arrest King without injuring her. This was an excellent job by Officer Richter.
Afterward, coward prosecutors gave in to public opinion, rather than considering the facts of the case, and they dismissed charges against Breaion King. However, that decision may be based on what happened after King’s arrest.
After Breaion King’s arrest, Officer Patrick Spradlin arrived and took a break from eating lead paint-chips to have a conversation with King:
“But do you still believe that there is racism out there?” King asks
“Yes, I do,” the officer answers. “But let me ask you this: Do you believe it goes both ways?”
“I do,” she says. “But I believe that, I’m not going to lie. I believe that Caucasians have more supremacy than we do, they have more rights.”
“I don’t think that,” Spradlin says.
“A lot more people are a little afraid of black people because of everything, honestly…” King says.
“Let me ask you this,” Spradlin interrupts. “Why are so many people afraid of black people?”
“That’s what I want to figure out, because I’m not a bad black person,” King says.
“I can give you a really good idea, a really good idea why it might be that way,” he says. “Violent tendencies. I want you to think about that.
“I’m not saying anything, I’m not saying it’s true, I’m not saying I agree with it or nothing,” Spradlin says. “But 99 percent of the time, when you hear about stuff like that, it is the black community that is being violent. That’s why a lot of white people are afraid. And I don’t blame them.
“There are some guys I look at,” he continues. “I know it’s my job to deal with them and I know it’s probably going to get ugly and that’s the way it goes, but some of them because of their appearance and whatnot, some of them are very intimidating.”
After the incident, Officer Richter was disciplined for his reasonable use of force. Troglodyte Officer Spradlin did not get disciplined, because his conversation did not come to light until over a year after the incident; it was too late to discipline him at that point.
Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo continued to throw Officer Richter to the wolves:
“I’m sorry that on the day you were stopped for going 15 mph, you were … treated in a manner that is not consistent with the expectations of this police chief, of most of the officers of this department, and most importantly, of all of us as human beings,” he said. “Police officers have a sworn duty to try to calm things down, approach incidents, approach people in a manner that enhances the probability that everyone gets to go on with their day, especially over a speeding ticket.”
We think that Chief Acevedo and Officer Spradlin are in the wrong line or work. Both of these law enforcement officers should be ashamed of themselves and their disturbing comments.
Officer Bryan Richter, you did an excellent job, and you deserve an apology from Chief Acevedo and Breaion King for the way that you were treated.