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‘The Video Makes It Absolutely Clear’: Footage Raises the Question of Whether a Black Man Fatally Shot In the Back By Austin Cop Was a Threat

Three police officers in Austin, Texas, are on administrative leave after fatally shooting a Black man they claim had a gun.

The family of Anthony Franklin, 30, believe he posed no threat when he was shot in the back while crouched in the fetal position. 

“The video makes it absolutely clear. Anthony Franklin was on the ground crouched in the fetal position when these officers opened fire,” Franklin’s family’s attorneys Harry Daniels and Nathaniel Mack III said in a statement on Friday.

Anthony Franklin, 30, died on Jan. 15 in downtown Austin after reports of a man with a gun prompted a 911 call to police.

Around 11:30 that night, an unidentified man can be heard on 911 audio released by the Austin Police Department saying, “there’s a guy going around shooting people” as the dispatcher worked to locate the shooting victim.

“I hear three shots fired,” the caller says to the dispatcher.

Emergency sirens can be heard in the audio background as frantic 911 callers call for help.

About five minutes later, officers arrived to the frantic scene the Austin American-Statesman reported.

Police found the unidentified man who had been shot with non-life-threatening injuries. He was later transported to the hospital.

Meanwhile, the shooter was described as “thin, standing about 6-foot-1 to 6-foot-2 with “afro-style hair” and wearing dark clothing.” About 15 minutes after the first 911 calls were made, police probing the area found Franklin who matched the shooter’s description.

In released body camera video by Austin police which only lasts a little more than a minute shows the final moments leading up to the fatal shooting.

The officers, later identified as Kelby Radford, Ryan’s Rawlins and Jacob Bowman can be heard yelling, “gun, gun!” 

Police say they ordered Franklin to drop the gun, but “Franklin did not comply with the officers’ orders and began to run.”

Anthony Franklin
A screenshot of Anthony Franklin of Austin, Texas, as he lay mortally wounded by police following a pursuit on Jan. 15, 2023. (Photo: Screenshot of APD bodycam video)

One of the officers pursued Franklin on foot while the other two officers followed in their utility vehicle. 

Police say they again ordered Franklin to drop the gun and show his hands, but Franklin didn’t comply.

The pursuit ended as Franklin ran onto the porch of a building an then jumped off of the porch and onto the ground. As Franklin landed on the ground, the officers open a barrage of gunfire on Franklin as he lay curled into the fetal position with his hands holding his head.

Police claim Franklin threw the gun toward a vehicle parked on the street, but it still landed near him.

The officers then apprehended an injured Franklin and began rendering aid as EMS arrived to the scene.

“While most of us were celebrating Dr. Martin Luther King’s birthday, Anthony Franklin was taking his last breaths because these officers thought they were gunslingers instead of peace officers,” Daniels and Mack said.

Franklin was pronounced dead at 12:30 a.m. after succumbing to his injuries.

A spokesperson for the Austin Police Department told Atlanta Black Star, “the department respects the investigation and court process and will not make any further comments at this time.”

Social media users appear divided on the police response.

“There’s some footage missing from this video APD untrustworthy wow, and he was unarmed,” Charles Magee wrote on Facebook.

“So what threat was posed with him lying in his back when the opened fire?” Troy Bare asked.

Another user presented Franklin allegedly shooting the other man minutes earlier as the reason police acted reasonably.

“People seemed to miss that part, if he shot an unarmed person, he would shoot someone else,” Mark Lantrip said in a comment.

The officers have since been placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of an internal investigation and an investigation by the Travis County District Attorney’s Office. 

Franklin’s family attorneys did not immediately return requests for further comment regarding the next steps in the case.

We will update this story as it continues to develop.

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