The Austin, Texas, police chief recently apologized to Breaion King, 26, after a series of videos surfaced showing the elementary teacher being slammed to the ground during her arrest for a minor traffic stop last summer.
King, who was pulled over last June for driving 15 miles over the speed limit, was instructed by Office Bryan Richter to get out of the car. After stepping out of her car, the situation quickly escalated, NBC News reported. According to the video, Richter screams at King to “stop resisting,” and King replies, “I’m getting out.” The officer then yanks King out of her vehicle and slams her to the ground.
In the video, King asks, “Why are you doing this to me?” and when she tries to stand up, Richter throws her to the ground again.
“I was afraid for my life, that I have this man pulling me out of my car and I didn’t understand why, and it was pure fear, and I really wanted God to help me. I needed him to save me because I didn’t know what was going to happen,” King recently told KXAN News about her arrest.
A second video captured King in the backseat of the squad car. She was being driven to jail by a different officer, Patrick Spradlin. King asks Spradlin a series of questions about racism, including why do White Americans have more rights than African-Americans and why are White folks are so afraid of Black people.
Spradlin’s response is eye-opening: “Why are so many people afraid of Black people? I can give you a really good — a really good idea why it might be that way. Violent tendencies. Ninety-nine percent of the time, when you hear about stuff like that, it is the Black community that’s being violent. That’s why a lot of the White people are afraid and I don’t blame them.”
King says she asked those questions to understand the officer’s “point of view.”
“I wanted to understand the point of view the officer was coming from, well, what is it, why is it, you know, and how can we make a change,” King explained.
“That’s what I was trying to understand; what is it that I need to do? What do we need to do as a community to make sure we change these things in a positive way so it doesn’t continue to happen to people.”
On Thursday, during a press conference, Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo publicly apologized for his police officers’ behavior, calling Spradlin’s mentality “racist.”
“I’m sorry that on the day that you were stopped for going 15 miles per hour you were approached in a manner and treated in a manner that is not consistent with the expectations of this police chief, of most of the officers of this police department, and, most importantly, I think of all of us as human beings,” Acevedo stated.
Acevedo also said he was disturbed he was not made aware of these videos immediately after King’s arrest occurred.
“There’s a problem that this was not kicked up to our level back in ’15,” he said.
However, Richter’s direct supervisors did know the details surrounding King’s arrest, and his initial punishment was nothing more than counseling and an informal discipline, NBC noted.
Yet, according to Acevedo, both officers have been “taken off law enforcement duties” while officials conduct their investigation into their conduct with King. Criminal charges could be filed, but that will be determined by the Austin District Attorney’s Office.
While some may wonder why King waited over a year to speak out about her arrest, her answer is simple: She was afraid and ashamed.
“I know a lot of people look up to me so it was embarrassing, you know, my students, I felt like I was letting them down, I felt like I was letting my family down, my organization down, and I felt like I let myself down,” King told KXAN News.
What happened to King isn’t her shame, though, it’s the Austin Police Department’s.