- Question: What is a critical incident?
Answer: In Accordance with APD policy 117, “critical incidents” are defined as:
(a) Officer-involved shootings, including unintentional discharge while in the course of duty or in response to a call, regardless of whether a person was hit by gunfire and even if no allegation of misconduct is made;
(b) A use of force resulting in death or serious bodily injury as defined by Section 1.07, Texas Penal Code;
(c) All deaths while an arrestee/detainee is in the custodial care of the Department; or
(d) Any other police encounter where the Chief of Police determines release of video furthers a law enforcement purpose.
(e) This General Order does not include or apply to officer-involved shootings of an animal, an unintentional discharge during pre-shift equipment checks, or during training/qualifications on the firing range.
- Question: When was the critical incident-public released policy 117 published?
Answer: on 06/01/2020. Please review this policy for more information on critical incident videos that are publicly released.
- Question: What is the purpose of releasing critical incident briefing videos?
Answer: The purpose is to continue transparency through information sharing and to provide informative briefings on critical incidents, while maintaining the integrity of ongoing investigations.
- Question: Where does the material come from that is shown in the critical incident videos?
Answer: While other parties may publicly release some video footage, these briefings contain relevant audio and video footage of the critical incident from the Austin Police Departments’ preliminary investigation.
- Question: What sources of video may be released for a critical incident video?
Answer: Videos that may be released pursuant to this policy includes but are not limited to body-worn camera video, digital in-car camera video, video captured from APD’s Air unit and video captured by third parties that is in the departments possession.
- Question: How are the videos and other materials selected?
Answer: The Austin Police Department and the Office of Police Oversight collaborate and review materials related to the critical incident. APD and the OPO work together to ensure relevant audio and video footage is shown in an unbiased way, so the viewer may see how the situation unfolded.
- Question: Are the materials shown in the video redacted or edited?
Answer: If necessary, materials presented in this video have been redacted and edited in effort to protect privacy rights and to avoid the release of information that state law prohibits the Department from releasing. Such redactions or edits do not affect the depiction of events presented in this video.
Question: What types of edits or redactions may be applied to the video?
Answer: The edits and redactions applied to released materials include but are not limited to, digitized voices, blurred faces, blurred identification, blurred license plates, blurred computer screens and redacted audio that contains personal identifying information of individuals.
- Question: Why is the video produced instead of releasing the raw video?
Answer: The critical incident video is intended to provide additional context to the incident so the viewer is better informed on what transpired.
- Question: Why does it take so long for video to be released?
The Department conducts thorough response to resistance investigations, which typically requires investigators to interview multiple witnesses and analyze a significant amount of evidence. It takes time to obtain the preliminary information for this video release. Also, time is required to collaborate with our community and legal partners to ensure the information is released in an accurate and transparent manner, without impacting the criminal investigation.
- Question: What is the investigation process after a critical incident occurs?
The Travis County District Attorney’s Office monitors the criminal investigation conducted by the Austin Police Department Special investigations Unit. When the investigation is complete, investigators will submit the investigative packet to Tthe Travis County District Attorney’s Office for review. The Travis County District Attorney’s Office will determine whether or not the case will be taken before the Grand Jury.
The Office of Police Oversight monitors the administrative investigation conducted by the Department’s Internal Affairs Unit. IA investigators will gather the facts surrounding the incident. Based on all the information obtained, the involved officer’s chain of command will determine whether the officers’ actions were in accordance with Departmental policy and state law.
In some criminal investigations, the Austin Police Department may request law enforcement partners such as the Texas Department of Public Safety, Texas Rangers, to join us in this investigation.
- Question: What does it mean when an officer is placed on administrative duty?
Answer: Employees involved in serious, critical, or traumatic incidents, not limited to shootings or fatality crashes, may be placed on restricted duty or administrative leave duty status to restrict their authorities and or work functions. This may be done at any point during an investigation when maintaining regular duties may compromise the integrity or general order of the Department. For information on restricted and administrative duty please review the Austin Police Departments policy 959.
- Question: Who decides what type of duty the Officer is placed on? What is the difference between administrative and restricted duty?
Answer: The Chief of Police will make a determination based on circumstances whether an officer is placed on administrative duty or restricted duty. The main difference between administrative and restricted duty is the type of policing authority the officer maintains. For information on restricted and administrative duty please review the Austin Police Departments policy 959.
- Question: When will the rest of the videos for a critical incident be released?
Answer: When the criminal and administrative investigation is complete more information on the incident may be released at the appropriate time.
- Question: Where can I locate more information on policies and procedures for the Austin Police Department?
Answer: If you would like more information on the Austin Police Department’s policies and procedures regarding use of force and subsequent investigations, please visit http://austintexas.gov/page/apd-general-orders
- Question: Where can I locate Austin Police Department media briefings and other Departmental videos?
Answer: If you would like to view other videos from the Austin Police Department, please visit any of the Austin Police Departments’ social media pages. Most videos are available on Facebook www.Facebook.com/austinpolice, Twitter www.twitter.com/austin_police, Periscope www.periscope.tv/austin_police and YouTube www.youtube.com/austin_police.