Authorities are investigating two Texas police officers involved in a violent arrest last year in which an elementary school teacher who is a black woman was twice thrown to the ground and later told by police that black people have “violent tendencies,” the Austin American-Statesman reports.
Video obtained by the newspaper and KVUE-TV reportedly shows Austin Police officer Bryan Richter dragging 26-year-old Breaion King from her car after pulling her over for speeding. The incident occurred in June of 2015.
As the white officer slings King to the ground, she screams, “Oh my God! ... Why are you doing this to me?”
In an incident report, Richter said King was “uncooperative” and was “reaching for the front passenger side of the vehicle,” the American-Statesman reports. The officer said he feared the teacher may have been going for a weapon.
King told the newspaper she wasn’t given time to comply with the officers’ orders. “I was in disbelief,” she said. “It was like an out-of-body experience. I feared for my life.”
King’s charge of resisting arrest was ultimately dropped after an attorney reviewed the video. The officer’s discipline at the time included counseling and additional training.
In a separate video obtained by both media outlets, King is seen conversing about race with a different white officer, Patrick Spradlin, while handcuffed in the back of a police vehicle on her way to jail.
“Why are so many people afraid of black people?” Spradlin asks King.
“That’s what I want to figure out, because I’m not a bad black person,” King responds.
“I can give you a really good, a really good idea why it might be that way,” the officer says. “Violent tendencies ... And I want you to think about that.”
The American-Statesman reports that the Austin Police Department has since opened investigations against both officers after prosecutors brought attention to the case in recent weeks.
“After reviewing both videos, I and our leadership team were highly disturbed and disappointed in both the way Ms. King was approached and handled and in the mindset that we saw on display in those videos,” Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo told the newspaper.
During a press conference Thursday, Acevedo addressed the officers’ actions and apologized to King on behalf of the department. “There’s a way to do this job,” he said, “and that day we did not approach it anywhere near where we should have approached it.”