Supporters of man arrested by APD last month allege police brutality
Supporters of a man arrested by Austin police last month gathered Friday to allege police brutality.
Jason Donald's arrest was caught on cell phone video and shows officers using a stun gun and punching him. It went viral, with nearly 4 million views on Facebook.
Jason Donald's attorney has asked the civil rights division of the Travis County District Attorney's office to look into his arrest,
APD Chief Brian Manley spoke at length about the controversial video last month, saying Donald was found with drugs and resisted arrest, but Donald's supporters say he was beaten unjustly for no reason.
Donald didn't talk about his December 12th arrest at a press conference on Friday. "At this point Mr. Donald is just trying to recover from the physical and psychological abuse that occurred," said attorney Mark Sampson.
Family spokesperson Poppy Keith said APD hasn't proven that Donald was dealing drugs downtown. "The only crimes that took place is the fact this man is black and poor," Keith said.
The video, posted by Facebook user Mo Anderson captured officers using a stun gun and punching Donald during an arrest. It went viral in part, because one officer was wearing a Santa hat that said 'naughty.'
Chief Brian Manley maintains that during a gap in the video, Donald slipped out of his handcuffs and tried to pull away from officers and the use of force was needed to get him back in custody. "The use of just your own physical force just with strikes with your hands although it looks terrible, it's never going to look positive, but it is one of the lowest levels of force we have," Manley said.
Manley said Donald was seen making drug deals in the area and was found with suspected cocaine and synthetic marijuana as well as a large amount of cash. Sampson denies his client had drugs and said it's not illegal to carry cash. "A street test is not a real lab report. it's not accurate at all. I've had a lot of cases where a street test will show positive and it later turned out not to be a controlled substance or anything illegal," Sampson said.
Donald was arrested on December 12 and charged with delivery of a controlled substance and resisting arrest. Manley said there's surveillance video from the gas station that backs up the charges. "We're fortunate that the video has been made available to us from that business. They have a camera on the side of the business that captured the entire incident once they walked around to the side of the store," Manley said.
Sampson doesn't believe Manley and refuses to go into detail about the allegations against his client or his reported wounds. "I don't want to describe them any further. He will continue getting medical treatment," Sampson said.
Activists are calling on the department to release the other video. "I can't speak to video footage we can't see and I think it only strengthens our resolve for greater transparency," said Chris Harris with Grass Roots leadership.
APD is investigating the officers' actions in this case and the surveillance video cannot be released until that review is complete.