A grand jury has declined to bring charges against a former Texas police officer involved in the fatal shooting of 17-year-old David Joseph, who was unarmed and naked, the New York Daily News reports.
Travis County, Texas, jurors came to the decision after meeting for five days and hearing 12 witnesses' testimony about Austin Police Officer Geoffrey Freeman, who was fired after the incident, District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg confirmed.
While Freeman's lawyers applauded the jury's decision, an attorney representing David's family condemned the move as a "sad day for justice."
"Failing to secure an indictment when a police officer shoots and kills an unarmed, skinny, naked teenager, who the officer outweighed by over 100 pounds, is a failure of will by the district attorney and calls into question the entire grand jury process in cases involving police misconduct," Edwards said in a statement.
Freeman, 41, was fired about a month after the shooting, with Police Chief Art Acevedo saying that the officer broke departmental policies during the incident.
"Officer Freeman's decision to draw his weapon when he exited his vehicle was unwarranted," Acevedo wrote in a disciplinary notice, pointing out that Freeman could have used his baton, stun gun, pepper spray or even a beanbag shotgun instead. Freeman has appealed the termination, the Daily News notes.
Lawyers representing Freeman for the Combined Law Enforcement Associations of Texas countered that Freeman feared for his safety when David charged at him despite orders to stop. The executive director of the organization, Charley Wilkison, believes that Freeman will get his job back through the appeal.
"He followed his laws, he followed his training and he protected the community," Wilkison said after the decision was announced. "And that's how [the jury] judged it."
Freeman, who is black, responded to reports of a young black man behaving erratically and chasing a resident at an apartment complex in Austin around 10 a.m. Feb. 8. Freeman could not locate the suspect until another emergency call alerted police about a naked black man jumping in front of a car in the neighorhood.
Freeman located David and got out of his cruiser about 100 feet away from the teen. David reportedly ran toward the officer.
"Stop right there, man. Stop right there," Freeman yelled at the approaching teen, dashcam footage released Tuesday showed.
"Don't move!" Freeman continued shouting. "Stop!" the officer yelled before shooting the teen. An autospy later showed traces of Xanax, antihistamines and marijuana in David's system.
Later on in the video, Freeman could be heard saying off camera, "Breathe, man, breathe."
David was later pronounced dead at a local hospital.
"Officer Freeman took David away from my family," David's brother, Fally Joseph, said in a statement. "He will never get to finish high school, go to college, have his own family and take care of my mom like he always planned to."
Read more at the New York Daily News.