Wednesday, June 20, 2007
A man who was trying to protect the driver of a vehicle that had hit a child pedestrian was killed by an angry crowd the evening of Wednesday, June 20, in Austin, Texas.
The man was identified today by Austin police as David Rivas Morales, age 40. The driver had just dropped Morales off at his sister’s townhouse moments before. Then while still in the parking lot, he allegedly bumped the toddler with the vehicle. The child was not injured and was not taken to the hospital. A group of 3 or 4 men confronted the driver and Morales came back to assist him. The assailants then turned on Morales. Police indicated the driver, who had escaped the scene of the crime, was cooperating with the investigation. Morales died at the hospital from injuries that included a cracked skull and brain hemorrhaging.
The neighborhood was crowded at the time with some 2,000 to 3,000 people who were participating in the annual Juneteenth celebration, which commemorates the day the emancipation of slaves was announced in Texas. It was not immediately known whether any of the attackers had been part of the celebration.
In a news conference on Wednesday, members of League of United Latin American Citizens called on the community not to assume the killing was racially motivated solely because Juneteenth celebrants are predominately African-American and the victim was Latino. Police officers stated that early reports were incorrect in implying thousands of potential witnesses, as investigations suggested only 10 to 15 people had been in the parking lot when the incident occurred and most of these were residents of apartments nearby.