An Austin police officer will not face criminal charges for his violent arrest of a teacher in June 2015, a Travis County grand jury decided Thursday after a three week review of the case.
The arrest of Breaion King by Officer Bryan Richter had received little scrutiny until July, when the American-Statesman obtained a copy of a patrol car video showing the clash between the two.
The footage shows a traffic stop traffic stop escalating rapidly in the seven seconds from when officer Bryan Richter, who is white, first gives a command to 26-year-old Breaion King to close her car door to when he forcibly removes her from the driver’s seat, pulls her across a vacant parking space and hurls her to the asphalt.
The incident raised questions about how the matter had been handled internally and has since become a focal point of discussion in the community and department about how officials review use-of-force encounters and a culture among some supervisors who thought Richter’s actions were justified.
At the time, Richter’s supervisors reviewed the case and issued the most minor discipline, but did not order a broader internal investigation of his actions.
However, when top police officials, including Acevedo learned about the case, they said they were deeply troubled by Richter’s conduct and ordered an administrative review of how his supervisors handled the matter.
Richter wrote in reports that Richter wrote in his report of the incident that he acted quickly because King demonstrated an “uncooperative attitude” and was “reaching for the front passenger side of the vehicle.” He didn’t know whether she had a weapon, he wrote. He said King resisted by pulling away from him and wrapping her hands and arms around the steering wheel.
Travis County prosecutors also ordered an investigation, and District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg said she wanted a grand jury to decide whether Richter should be charged.
Such panels rarely look into cases that do not involve the use of lethal force, and when they do, indictments are rare.
According to records from the Travis County district attorney’s office, that has happened three times since Jan. 30, 2012. All three times, the grand jurors declined to indict the officers.
The last time an officer was indicted in a fatal shooting was in May 2013, when former Detective Charles Kleinert was indicted on a manslaughter charge in the death of Larry Jackson. A federal judge dismissed that case, which is on appeal.
King has a pending federal lawsuit against Richter. The department’s internal review of the matter is expected to be complete in the next few weeks.