The clearest account of what preceded a fatal officer-involved shooting early Sunday in downtown Austin appears to come from a video posted by a bystander on YouTube. It depicts two groups of men engaged in an escalating argument that ends with the sound of gunfire, causing a throng of onlookers on Sixth Street to disperse.
Though police would not confirm whether the video was related to the incident that ended with two officers killing a 24-year-old black man who they say had fired at them, the timeline, sequence of events and images match the partial narrative offered by authorities Sunday.
The video, shot and edited by an unidentified YouTube poster, depicts a man who appears to display a gun tucked into the waistband of his shorts during an argument on Sixth Street. The video cuts away, picking up after officers fire. It shows the man lying on the ground on Trinity Street with blood on his shirt.
Interim Police Chief Brian Manley said the fatal encounter began at 2:39 a.m. when officers working on Sixth Street heard a gunshot.
Manley said officers monitoring cameras downtown found footage of a man firing a handgun into the air in front of a club near Sixth and Trinity. Authorities immediately put out a description over the radio so officers could pick him up, Manley said.
Moments later, the chief said, patrol officers spotted the man, but he ran off as they approached.
“This all happened within minutes,” Manley said. “At 2:41 a.m., they give out the description of the clothing, and then at 2:42 a.m. is when we have officers report that shots have been fired.”
In the small window from the initial description to shots being fired, Manley said, officers chased the man about a half-block on Sixth Street before he fled north onto Trinity.
“The officers, as they pursued him, observed that he had a pistol,” Manley said. “At one point, based on our preliminary investigation and on the reports that we’ve been given, the suspect did turn and fire towards our officers. Our officers returned fire, and the subject was ultimately shot at that point.”
According to Manley, investigators recovered bullet casings that matched the ammunition found in the weapon the man is accused of firing. Manley said casings were found in front of the club where the first shot was fired and in the 600 block of Trinity Street, where the man was hit. The man, whom authorities have not identified, was taken to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 3:08 a.m.
“I do want to express my condolences to the family of this man,” Manley said. “This is a tragic event that this community (has seen) before, and unfortunately we’ve seen this in communities around the country. But it is no less tragic. It is a young life lost. This is nothing that a police officer wants to be involved in.”
Manley did not identify the two officers involved in the shooting but said they are a sergeant with 18 years on the force and an officer with seven years of experience. As is standard, they have both been placed on administrative duty while authorities investigate the shooting.
Administrative and criminal investigations will be conducted, Manley said, as is protocol.
During his early morning news briefing, Manley said the department is seeking any video that bystanders have from the incident.
The video that has surfaced depicts Sixth Street crowded with revelers shortly after the bars closed and the street filled with tents from the weekend’s Pecan Street Festival. At the beginning of the video, a man in a white shirt and blue shorts can be seen displaying a handgun in his waistband. Tension escalates as a group of men become confrontational, declaring their allegiances to the “east side” and to Houston.
“Where are the police?” a girl wonders off-camera. “He just walked past.”
The shouting continues until a shot is fired, a woman screams and the crowd pulls back. The man in blue shorts can be seen standing with his hands in his pockets.
Then the video cuts to the aftermath of the police shooting: The man in blue shorts is on the ground being cuffed by police while officers create a perimeter. An officer can be seen shining a flashlight on what looks like blood on the man’s hip. The man appears to be holding his head up at first, but after a cut in the footage, he appears unresponsive, and the crowd is shouting angrily at police.
Farrukh Kasbati, 26, said he saw two men arguing in the area just before the incident.
“I don’t even know what they were arguing about, but it was seven or eight people arguing with each other,” he said later. “After two minutes, there was a gunshot, and that’s when everyone started running.”
2017 officer-involved shootings
The shooting death of a man downtown early Sunday by an Austin police officer appears to be at least the fifth officer-involved shooting that either injured or killed a person this year. The four prior victims either reportedly suffered from mental illness or were thought to be under the influence of drugs.
• Jan. 14 — Police shot and killed Scott Gilpin, who was carrying an assault rifle and firing shots into the air. An official with the police union said Gilpin had indicated he wanted to commit suicide.
• Feb. 22 — An officer shot and killed Morgan Rankins when she pulled a knife, concluding a wild pursuit that began when she attempted to run over three officers, officials said. Rankins’ minister said she had struggled with mental illness.
• April 7 — Police shot and injured East Austin resident Lawrence Parrish after officers said he raised and pointed a rifle at them during a standoff. A woman who lived with Parrish told police he was high on drugs at the time.
• May 2 — An officer shot and killed Jason Sebastian Roque, a reportedly suicidal man, in Northeast Austin. Police said Roque was approaching his mother with a gun when an officer opened fire.