AUSTIN, Texas - The Austin Police Department (APD) has released the body camera footage from the Jan. 5th shooting of Alex Gonzales Jr. APD first showed it to the family of Gonzales, Jr., the officers involved, and city officials. The family has been waiting for months to see the footage.
The footage includes both audio and video and officials say they are releasing it to provide "additional context" to what happened.
APD says parts of the video have been edited or redacted to protect the investigation, but that edited video, they say, does include "comprehensive footage" of the actions of the officers involved.
In January, then-Chief Brian Manley said the body-worn cameras only show what happened once police backup arrived—since Gutierrez was off duty and was not wearing a body cam.
APD says it is working with the Office of Police Oversight and the Travis County District Attorney’s Office to release the video. The video and supplemental content can be viewed on the Austin Police Department website.
"In compliance with state law that prohibits the release of certain information and to maintain the integrity of the multi-departmental investigation, the video materials have been edited or redacted," APD said in their press release. "The edited video does include comprehensive footage of the officers’ actions."
The officers involved in this critical incident have been identified as:
- Officer Gabriel Gutierrez 5 years of service with APD - (Fired weapon/initial officer)
- Officer Luis Serrato 2 years of service with APD - (Fired weapon/responding officer)
Per policy, both of these officers were placed on paid administrative leave.
FOX 7 Austin has chosen to freeze portions of the supplemental videos and keep the audio. To view the supplemental videos in full you can go to the Austin Police Department website.
The Austin Police Association released a statement on the video Wednesday:
"The Austin Police Association (APA) has reviewed the video released today by the Austin Police Department regarding two of our members. The APA and our membership value human life and neither officer who used force, in this case, woke up that day hoping to be involved in a shooting. The unfortunate reality of police work is that officers are oftentimes put in situations where they are forced to react to the actions of others and at times, these situations end with terrible outcomes. The APA hopes that the family of Mr. Gonzales can one day find closure. We feel for his loved ones and we understand their pain. We also hope that our members can be treated fairly while this case goes through the Travis County criminal justice system. The APA hopes that our members are never put into a position to have to use deadly force ever again, but we sadly know that this is not a situation of if it will happen again, but when. The APA believes that our officers have a right to defend themselves and others and we firmly stand with Officers Gutierrez and Serrato."
WHAT HAPPENED ON JAN. 5?
Austin police say an off-duty APD officer, who was in his own car and not in uniform, was driving home. They say Gonzales allegedly cut him off and pointed a gun at him. The officer then allegedly shot at Gonzales, who had his girlfriend and baby also in the car.
Gonzales continued to drive southbound on Wickersham Lane before finally stopping against a curb. The officer stopped behind his vehicle and called 911.
Witness video, obtained by FOX 7 Austin, shows the moment when back up officers begin to arrive and the full encounter.
APD says that on-duty officers arrived minutes later and captured the next portion of the incident on body-worn cameras. The footage shows the suspect vehicle stopped along the curb with the off-duty officer's personal vehicle behind it. The off-duty officer gave commands to the driver and as backup approached, they continued giving commands to the driver who was now outside the driver's side.
Despite verbal commands, the driver walked around the rear of the vehicle towards the passenger's side, says APD. The driver opened what appears to be the back-passenger door of the vehicle. As the driver reached into the vehicle, an on-duty officer fired at the driver who went down.
Elizabeth Gonzales, Alex's mother, said that her son never would have started any commotion. "He was a good sweet person," she said.
She says the events still leave her in disbelief. "When this happened, like my own world ended, my world stopped," she said. "Since that date, I can't move on. I won't move on until some justice has done for my son."