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Austin Police Officer Suspended For Off-Duty Road-Rage Incident

Austin, TX – A video was just released of an off-duty Austin police officer pulling his weapon on a man who rear-ended him in what has been called an incident of road rage (video below).

The incident occurred just before 2 p.m. on May 23, 2020 when Austin Police Officer Thomas Tuminelli was running late to work, the Austin American-Statesman reported.

A disciplinary memo signed by Austin Police Chief Brian Manley in November said Officer Tuminelli drove “at times at an average speed of 96 mph” down Interstate 35 and engaged in cutting off and “brake-checking” another driver.

That driver had a dashcam and followed Officer Tuminelli, recording as the officer careened down the freeway, the Austin American-Statesman reported.

The dashcam video from his car showed he followed Officer Tuminelli off an exit ramp and crashed into the back of the officer’s car when it stopped at a stop sign.

The video showed the officer had his weapon in his right hand as he yelled at the other driver and pointed to the damage on his vehicle.

“The dashcam footage then shows Officer Tuminelli jumping out of his vehicle, in an already intense situation, and brandishing his (personal) firearm,” Chief Manley wrote in the memo that informed the officer of his suspension. “The (other driver) and Officer Tuminelli can be seen and heard engaging in a profanity-laced argument, during which Officer Tuminelli identified himself as a police officer.”

The memo said that Officer Tuminelli told investigators that he took his weapon with him when he got out of his car because “this individual had possibly rear-ended me on purpose, and I was unsure of his intentions or actions at that point,” the Austin American-Statesman reported.

Police were called and the Austin police corporal who responded to the scene told the other driver how to file a formal complaint against Officer Tuminelli with the Austin Office of Police Oversight.

His complaint was forwarded from that office to Austin PD’s Internal Affairs, which opened up an investigation into the incident, the Austin American-Statesman reported.

Officer Tuminelli told investigators that he was trying to get away from the other driver when he committed most of the driving infractions.

But the memo from the police chief said the officer had admitted to investigators that some of the things he had done, such as brake-checking the other car, were not meant to elude, the Austin American-Statesman reported.

“Moreover, Officer Tuminelli acknowledged during his DRH that he was driving recklessly prior to the (other driver) following him, and in doing so he not only placed himself and the (other driver) at risk of injury, but he also endangered other motorists on the highway,” Chief Manley wrote in the disciplinary memo. “Officer Tuminelli further conceded… that his emotions got the better of him, and he did not meet the expectations of an APD officer.”

Officer Tuminelli also had a dashcam recording the incident from his own vehicle, the Austin American-Statesman reported.

The police chief suspended Officer Tuminelli, without pay, for 60 days at the conclusion of the investigation.

He returned to active duty on Jan. 9, the Austin American-Statesman reported.

Officer Tuminelli, who has been on the police force for almost five years, will remain on probation for a year, according to the memo from the police chief.

Watch the incident unfold in the video below:

Written by
Sandy Malone

Managing Editor - Twitter/@SandyMalone_ - Prior to joining The Police Tribune, Sandy wrote the Politics.Net column for the Wall Street Journal and was managing editor of Campaigns & Elections magazine. More recently, she was an internationally-syndicated columnist for Conde Nast (BRIDES), The Huffington Post, and Monsters and Critics. Sandy is married to a retired police captain and former SWAT commander.

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Written by Sandy Malone

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