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Video: Man with knife pleads with Austin police to take his life after being shot

The man refused multiple commands to drop the knife

austin police shooting knife wielding man

Austin Police Department

By Katie Hall
Austin American-Statesman

AUSTIN, Texas — In the seconds after Austin police shot and injured Lashondell Gillespie, he told them to take his life.

“Kill me,” he said while he laid on the pavement on U.S. 183 in a T-shirt that said “Defend Black Lives.” “That’s what I want y’all to do, to kill me.”

An officer ultimately kicked away the knife that Gillespie was holding in his hand, and Gillespie, who is Black, survived the encounter.

The Aug. 19 shooting was captured by body-worn cameras from multiple officers. The video footage was released to the public Wednesday, within the new 10-business-day deadline the Austin Police Department recently set for such incidents.

Citing the ongoing investigation, interim Austin Police Chief Joseph Chacon declined to answer questions about the shooting at a news conference Wednesday to view the video.

Police received several 911 calls the afternoon of Aug. 19 that a man was walking on the dashed white stripe that separated the two northbound lanes of U.S. 183 near the Austin-Bergstrom International Airport, about a mile south of Texas 71.

As police arrived, they found Gillespie doing exactly that. In the audio of one of the 911 calls officials released Wednesday, the caller said it appeared that Gillespie was suffering from a mental health issue and he was unsure whether Gillespie had a weapon.

The officer who first approached Gillespie on the road was identified by police as Jason Cummins. He was wearing a police polo and was not equipped with a protective vest or a body camera, the video shows. Soon after, officer Derrick Lehman — who did have a body camera — joined him, and Cummins said, “Knife!”

Both officers, with their guns raised, told Gillespie to drop the knife. When he did not drop the knife and walked toward them, the officers shot him.

Once he was on the ground, Gillespie began to tell the officers to kill him, and they continued to tell Gillespie to drop his knife. They also called Austin-Travis County EMS medics to the scene.

“Let us help you,” both officers said to Gillespie after the shooting.

“It’s going to be fine,” Lehman said. “Sir, we can help you. ... Whatever’s going on, we can help you with.”

“Don’t do this, man,” Cummins said.

An unnamed officer directs the officers on what to do next, explaining that he’s going to kick the knife out of Gillespie’s hand, the video shows. He also directs officer Michael Barba to use his stun gun on Gillespie.

“Do not shoot,” he directs officers.

Gillespie was taken to the hospital with serious injuries, and as of Wednesday he was still hospitalized in stable condition, Chacon said.

Cummins, Lehman and Barba have been placed on administrative leave, which is standard Austin Police Department protocol after a shooting. The officers’ case will be presented to a grand jury in the future, as with all shootings that involve officers, District Attorney José Garza said.

Former Austin Police Chief Brian Manley signed a policy in May 2020 that required body camera footage to be released within 60 days after an officer shoots someone, though Austin police have often missed that deadline. In July, Austin police changed the policy to 10 business days.

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