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Scott Henson's Racial Profile Accusation Challenged: Austin Police Release Surveillance Video

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Scott Henson says police in Austin, Texas, cuffed him and detained him because he was walking with his black granddaughter Ty. But the chief of police says a surveillance video proves Henson is wrong about the allegations.
Scott Henson says police in Austin, Texas, cuffed him and detained him because he was walking with his black granddaughter Ty. But the chief of police says a surveillance video proves Henson is wrong about the allegations.

Austin police officials are disputing police blogger Scott Henson's claim that cops drew Tasers and roughly handcuffed him simply for walking home with his five-year-old granddaughter.

They have just released a surveillance video taken during the incident that supports their claim.

"He lied," Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo told the American Statesman, referring to Henson.

Earlier this month, Henson, who blogs about the criminal justice system at Grits For Breakfast, posted an entry detailing two recent encounters with the Austin police while walking home from a roller skating rink with his 5-year-old granddaughter Ty, who is African-American.

During the first encounter, a female deputy told him that there were reports of a white man kidnapping a black girl and he was ordered to step away from Ty as the officer questioned the girl.

After a few minutes of questioning, Henson and Ty were allowed to walk home. They were just two blocks away when they were stopped by five flashing police cars and a crowd of police.

Henson initially claimed the officers got out with Tasers drawn, demanding he raise his hands and step away from the child. Then, when he complied, he said the cops handled him roughly, jerking his arms as they cuffed him.

The allegations received international attention, but Acevedo says surveillance tape proves the allegations against his department are false. After seeing the tape, Henson conceded he was wrong about some details.

"It happened in a flash and like many eyewitnesses, when under a perceived threat, my mind filled in some pieces erroneously," Henson told Statesman.com in an email response.

Acevedo insists his officers acted according to procedure and points to a recording of a 911 call prior to the incident from a woman who called police saying she had seen a white man grab a black girl and chase her into nearby woods.

But while Henson concedes he got some details wrong about the incident initially, he said on his blog that no one has denied the basic facts of the incident.

"So, on the basis of one factual error which I readily owned after seeing the conflicting video, I am a liar, says the chief," he wrote.

Acevedo said he had to release the surveillance video, despite the pleas of Henson not to do so because a child was involved.

Although the girl's face isn't shown, Statesman.com reported that Acevedo denied Henson's request in an email, saying, "Scott, unfortunately, we can't put the toothpaste back into the tube. You called us out on our response and I am in a position that I must show those interested that our officers not only reacted properly, but in an outstanding manner."

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