The Austin Police Department is asking the public for help in investigating an officer-involved shooting that unfolded early Tuesday morning – the second incident of its kind in less than 24 hours.
Police Chief Brian Manley told reporters that the incident began around 12:30 a.m. when an off-duty officer traveling to a neighborhood in his personal vehicle "noticed there was a car behind him and this car then abruptly cut him off.
"As the vehicle pulled alongside him, the officer reported that he saw the driver point a firearm at him," Manley said.
The officer in response fired "multiple rounds" at the suspect’s vehicle before making a 911 call to report the incident, according to Manley. He then followed the car down a street until it came to a stop and responding officers arrived, Manley added.
The police chief, citing body camera footage, said the suspect then stepped out of the vehicle and stood next to its driver’s side while on-duty officers were yelling at him to put his hands up and back away.
As police continued to shout the commands in English and Spanish, the suspect then walked toward one of the vehicle’s back doors, opened it up and reached in, Manley said – noting at that point one of the responding officers opened fire.
The suspect was pronounced dead at the scene, while a 33-year-old woman inside the vehicle who also was struck by gunfire is reported by police to be in stable condition after undergoing surgery at a local hospital. The other passenger – an infant – was unscathed. None have been publicly identified.
A video captured by a witness purportedly shows the moments just before the shooting.
Voices can be heard yelling, "Get away from there" and "Do not go into the car!" before several shots ring out.
The motive for the alleged incident leading up to the confrontation was not immediately clear – and now Manley is asking the public for help, as the off-duty officer was not in uniform and therefore not wearing an active body camera.
"We are asking anyone that was in this neighborhood that saw any part of this interaction to please call us and identify yourself so we can interview you," he said. "If you have video of this interaction that will be very important to our ongoing investigation of which there are a few right now."
Manley says the two officers who discharged their firearms have a combined seven years of experience with the Austin Police Department and have been placed on administrative duty pending the outcome of criminal and internal investigations.
In the other officer-involved shooting, which happened Monday morning, a 23-year-old suspect was wounded while trying to flee a SWAT standoff at a hotel, police said in a statement.
That suspect, Dylan Michael Polinski, was being sought for aggravated robbery.
Investigators say Polinski was tracked down to a Springhill Suites location in Austin where he barricaded himself inside a room.
He eventually emerged around 5:20 a.m. using a woman whom police say appeared to be there against her will as a human shield.
The Austin Police Department SWAT team managed to escort the woman to safety while Polinski attempted an escape, but he encountered responding officers in a stairwell who were trying to secure the scene, according to investigators.
Polinski was tasered before advancing toward officers a second time, where he was then struck by gunfire, police say. He was rendered medical aid and suffered injuries that were not life-threatening.