Austin officials accepted blame for an international media glare that they acknowledged had its roots in a misleading news release issued by the police department, reports the Austin American-Statesman. A release Wednesday morning, 12 hours after the death of 40-year-old David Morales, recounted how he was fatally beaten by “several black males” near a parking lot and that “there were 2,000 people to 3,000 people who were in the area” when he was attacked. That set off media reports worldwide that Austin was the site of a racially motivated beating by what several outlets called an “angry mob” of Juneteenth celebrants.
Later Wednesday, police said there were three or four assailants, there were up to 20 witnesses in the area, and that there was no connection to Juneteenth activities. Investigators, family members and Morales’ neighbors have said they do not think the beating was racially motivated. It was unclear last night where investigators had obtained their crowd estimate or how many witnesses they had interviewed when the department issued the initial release.