Austin resident says APD was overzealous while responding to reported kidnapping

Sarah White

Austin resident Scott Henson accused Austin police officers of being overzealous and unduly rough while questioning him about a reported kidnapping on Friday, Feb. 10 in a story that drew national and international attention. Police chief Art Acevedo cleared the air in a press conference Tuesday.

In his blog “Grits for Breakfast,” Henson claimed that he was walking home from the Millennium Youth Entertainment Complex with his 5-year-old granddaughter when officers apprehended him because he is white and she is black. He wrote that six police cars and nine officers wielding tasers surrounded him and his granddaughter and cuffed Henson, jerking his arms behind his back. He wrote that he had already identified himself to a female officer who later released him.

Acevedo said police were responding to a 9-1-1 call from a frantic woman, reporting that an older white man had disappeared into the woods near the Millenium Youth Entertainment Complex with a 3- to 5- year-old black girl.

“Henson claimed that our response was motivated by race, when our response was solely motivated by a desire to keep a little girl safe,” Acevedo said in an interview with The Daily Texan.

Acevedo said Henson did not cooperate with the first officer and attempted to walk away. Acevedo also said only three officers in total responded to the call at first and no tasers were drawn.

“Most abductions are conducted by members of the victim's family,” Acevedo said. “This situation is just as traumatic as abduction by a non-family member.”

Acevedo said it was necessary to detain Henson until police could reach the girl's mother and confirm that Henson was her grandfather. Representatives of APD also released two video tapes of Henson's interactions with officers and a recording of the original 9-1-1 call at the press conference Tuesday.

Printed on Wednesday February 22, 2012 as: Local accuses APD of aggressive unruly actions in response to call