James Sasinowski said the driver accused Garrett Foster of firing, “intentionally and aggressively ejecting his vehicle before it swerved into a crowd of people”.
“I want to be very clear that the driver instigated the violence – he accelerated into a crowd of people and he shot first,” Sasinowski said.
Foster, 28, was marching with other protesters on Saturday evening in protest during the Black Lives Matter movement in downtown Austin in solidarity.
Austin Police Chief Brian Manley said eyewitnesses reported that the disturbance began when the vehicle started playing its horn. Witnesses also told police that Foster approached the car with an AK-47 assault-style rifle, while others in the crowd began attacking from the vehicle.
Sasinowski said he did not know that Foster pointed his gun at the driver and that he did not hear what other witnesses say happened.
But, he said, the driver started the encounter.
“It was deliberate. It was aggressive and they intensified the crowd of protesters,” Sasinowski said. “He could wait for our passing or he could go slowly. We let him go.”
Police responded to a 911 call on Saturday, in which the caller said they had shot someone who had reached near the window of their car and pointed a rifle at them.
When officers arrived, he began a resuscitation effort on Foster, but died shortly after at a local hospital, Manley said.
Austin police said there would be an autopsy to determine the official cause and manner of Foster’s death, Austin police said.
Police said the accused of shooting Foster was brought to police for questioning and his hands and car were secured for evidence. Another man who fired his gun at the car was brought in for questioning. Both had a concealed handgun license and were pending further investigation.
Kenneth Cassade, president of the Austin Police Association, tweeted that Foster was “looking for a confrontation and he found it,” as he stood on Monday when he spoke to CNN’s Chris Cuomo.
“Probably wasn’t the best thing to do in thinking, but I stand by what I did. I think that was the best thing for the community to know at the time.”
Casade said Foster was protesting with a rifle in front of the city manager’s home.
“You’re seeing that when you’re standing in front of the city manager’s house and scaring them, you’re quarreling,” Casade said.
Noah Broder of CNN contributed to this report.