When she first went public nearly two years ago about her violent arrest by an Austin police officer, Breaion King said she wanted to help continue the conversation about relations between police and minorities.
On Sunday, she’ll take another step in keeping the topic on the national forefront: King will be in the audience at the Academy Awards ceremony in Los Angeles to learn whether “Traffic Stop,” a documentary about her experience, will win an Oscar.
“I still don’t believe it,” she said before leaving for California. “So I’m kind of like, meh, I’m going to the Oscars. But I definitely feel like I accomplished my goal.”
King was stopped by officer Bryan Richter in 2015 for speeding along Riverside Drive. What happened next was captured on video: The traffic stop escalating rapidly in the seven seconds from when Richter first gives a command to 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.
On the way to jail, another officer told King that police are sometimes wary of blacks because of their “violent tendencies.”
The American-Statesman and KVUE-TV first reported on the incident a year later, and it received national attention at the time.
Within weeks, an HBO crew contacted King about doing a documentary about her experience.
The crew followed her for several days, gathering footage of her at home and at the elementary school where she teaches for the 30-minute film.
King said she has viewed the film only once.
“It was surreal,” she said. “I know that it is going to spark a change far greater than what I thought. My biggest thing was to help my babies. But now, I am helping my babies on a greater scale. Those not just in Texas, those not just in my classroom, but those around the nation.”
Richter was not disciplined in the case because the deadline to impose punishment had passed before police leaders learned about the stop. In January, Richter was fired for using excessive force in an unrelated case.
King has a pending lawsuit against the city stemming from the incident.
King said more than two years later, she has only one regret: She wishes she had not been speeding.
This weekend, King was traveling to the Oscars ceremony with her attorney, Erica Grigg, to participate in numerous Oscar-related events, including interviews with the media about the film.
King said she hopes the film receives one of the industry’s highest honors, but no matter what, she feels honored by the response her story has received.
“If it does not win, it is OK because I got a chance to share my story, and I got a chance to help people through this process, and that’s all I ever wanted to do,” she said. “I always wanted to help people.”