In most jobs when an employee continues the same pattern of unacceptable behavior three times, he or she is immediately terminated. However, that is not the case for an officer with the Austin Police Department in Texas. Even after three excessive force complaints, resulting in at least one death and hundreds of thousands of dollars in taxpayer funded settlements to victims, Officer Eric Copeland still has his job.
From April 2011 to April 2015, Copeland was involved in several incidents that resulted in lawsuits and payouts to his victims. On November 9, 2017, the Austin City Council agreed to pay $150,000 to Adrian Aguado, who was tased and had his nose broken by the officer after he was released from his squad car. In 2012, Copeland was sued for fatally shooting an unarmed man name Ahmede Bradley in the chest three times after a traffic stop. The lawsuit filed by his family alleged that he “intentionally struck Bradley in the face, head, and body, at a time when Bradley had not assaulted Copeland.”
Another Austin citizen, Carlos Chacon, discovered the hard way that even when you are the one calling the police for assistance, responding officers may nevertheless treat you as a suspect. After Chacon reported suspicious activity at a motel, he was held at gunpoint by the responding officers. He claimed that he was beaten, tased, and arrested. A federal jury awarded him $1 million in damages, but the judge reduced it to $60,000. He and the city eventually settled the case for $154,000.
All three incidents were documented by video camera in Copeland’s police vehicle. Incredibly, not even the fact that he knew he was being recorded was enough to deter him from using excessive and deadly force when it was not justified.
Sources: www.kxan.com, https://photographyisnotacrime.com
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