Austin: Video of 2020 Off-Duty Officer Road Rage Incident Recalls 2021 Police Murder of Alex Gonzales Jr.

By Josefina Morales

Dashcam footage was made public this week which shows an off-duty Austin Police officer pulling a gun on another driver in chilling resemblance to the incident where plainclothes officer Gabriel Gutierrez shot Alex Gonzales, Jr. from his car earlier this month. Gutierrez’s shots mortally wounded Alex Jr., and Officer Luis Serrato finished the killing, both officers cooperating to murder Alex Jr.

Officer Thomas Tuminelli exiting vehicle pistol in hand

Officer Thomas Tuminelli was followed by the unnamed driver around 1:50pm on May 23, 2020 as he aggressively drove Southbound to Central Austin breaking numerous traffic laws and drove at an average speed of 96 mph. The driver was recording Tuminelli out of concern for other drivers’ safety.

Tuminelli came to a sudden stop near the intersection of Red River and Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, causing the other to rear-end him. In the video, Tuminelli can be seen getting out of his car, pistol in hand, rushing over to the other driver, jabbing his finger at him and at his car. After a minute out of frame, both men come into view as the driver stands up to Tuminelli, forcing him to retreat and put his gun away.

During the internal investigation, Tuminelli first justified his aggression by saying, “this individual had possibly rear-ended me on purpose, and I’m – I was unsure of his intentions or actions at that point.” He later admitted that some of his violations, including the brake check, were not in fact a byproduct of trying to elude the other driver.

Tuminelli received a 60-day suspension which ended on January 9, and it is unclear if his job duties have been altered in light of the incident. 

Local ruling class media defended Tuminelli in their coverage, with one commentator claiming that most road rage is “not intentional.” This same media also repeated the police narrative regarding the murder of Gonzalez, when plainclothes APD Officer Gabriel Gutierrez shot at Gonzales, his partner and their infant after an alleged road rage incident in the Riverside area.

“Don’t make me shoot you again, man!” Gutierrez yelled at Gonzales after they pulled over, minutes before police back up arrived and Officer Luis Serrato shot Gonzales to death as he went to check on his infant in the backseat.

The video of Tuminelli’s confrontation with the other drive illustrates that police aggression, whether it’s recorded or not, will be defended and justified by the ruling class and their allies, and that justice for their crimes must come from the people demanding it and fighting for it.

Editor’s note: The original introduction of this article read that Officer Gutierrez’s actions were, ‘leading to Alex’s death.‘ This phrasing was a heinous oversight and no better than the bourgeois media’s passive phrasing with regards to police killings i.e. “officer-involved shooting”, “was killed by police”. Our editors self-criticize for adding this phrase and allowing it go uncaught after the initial publication. We will be more vigilant in the future and never seek to distance the police from their crimes against the people.

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