Law Enforcement: Austin Police Chief Fires Cop Who Killed Daniel Rocha 11/25/05

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Austin Police Officer Julie Schroeder, the officer who shot and killed 18-year-old Daniel Rocha in June, has been fired by Austin Police Chief Stan Knee. Another officer involved in the incident, Sgt. Don Doyle, has been suspended for 28 days. Rocha was shot and killed as Schroeder and Doyle attempted to arrest him for possession of a small amount of marijuana.

Daniel Rocha
from Progressive Austin
Although the killing -- the 14th of a minority by Austin police in the last seven years -- aroused loud and angry protests, an Austin grand jury refused to indict Schroeder in the killing. Similarly, an Austin Police Department internal affairs investigation found that Schroeder had not violated departmental policy on the use of force. But an Austin citizens review committee recommended that Schroeder be fired. The committee also recommended that Doyle be demoted, but Chief Knee did not follow that recommendation.

While police shootings have roiled relations with Austin's black and brown community, Schroeder's firing is the first of any officer for an on-duty shooting in years. The local police union, the Austin Police Association, responded by calling for the firing of Chief Knee.

Rocha was shot in the back and killed on a southeast Austin street after he and two others were stopped during a police drug operation. A struggle broke out, Schroeder lost control of her Taser and, fearing Rocha would turn the weapon on herself or Sgt. Doyle, she shot Rocha. But in firing Schroeder, Chief Knee made it clear that Schroeder's stated belief that she fired because she thought she and Doyle were in danger was not justified.

While Schroeder has been fired, that's not quite the end of it. She has the right to appeal the chief's decision, and the Austin Police Association is ready to support her. The union has called for the chief to be fired for his decision in Schroeder's case. Meanwhile, an FBI investigation into the killing remains open.

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Issue #412 -- 11/25/05

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