A Texas civil rights organization has asked the Department of Justice to launch an investigation into the Austin Police Department following the fatal shooting by an officer of a 32-year-old black man that critics have said might have been excessive force.
Texas Civil Rights Project Director Jim Harrington said police officers need better training and oversight.
“It is very clear that the people of Austin are in great need of Department of Justice intervention yet again,” Harrington said. “These shootings indicate that the police are not being properly trained and supervised and are overreacting in situations, to the peril of the citizens.”
The Justice Department launched a similar probe against the police force in 2007, following a 2004 federal complaint from the Texas Civil Rights Project and the local chapter of the NAACP, which alleged the department infringed on peoples’ civil rights.
In May 2011, DOJ closed its investigation after finding no evidence of civil rights violations. The department did, however, encourage the police force to improve upon the way it conducts internal investigations, provide public and objective reports on its internal affairs division, find ways to reduce the use of force and employ a planned system to identify officers who have a propensity for using force and breaking policies.
Under the Obama administration, the department has opened similar investigations into the police departments of Miami, Seattle, New Orleans and Newark, New Jersey, among others, to determine whether officers retaliated against citizens, used excessive force and were involved with other wrongdoing.