Grand jury examines APD officer’s actions in deadly shooting

AUSTIN (KXAN) — A Travis County grand jury will examine the actions of an Austin police officer in a July 2013 deadly shooting.

Thursday, jurors will receive law instructions regarding the shooting that killed Larry Jackson, Jr. in Central Austin, and they’ll begin hearing from witnesses on Friday.

On July 26, Jackson showed up at a bank that had just been robbed — a crime scene Detective Charles Kleinert was investigating. Police said the detective began questioning Jackson after bank staff said they recognized him as a man who might try to defraud the bank.

When Jackson ran off after the detective questioned him, Kleinert followed the 32-year-old. The chase ended near Shoal Creek in Central Austin, and Kleinert’s position is that the deadly gunshot that hit Jackson in the neck was accidental.

The grand jury will examine evidence to determine if criminal charges are warranted or if the officer in question should be “no-billed.”

On Oct. 7, 2013, the Citizen’s Review Panel had a hearing on the case, conducted at the request of the Police Monitor’s Office. It could be considered by the grand jury but does not necessarily have to be used in any criminal proceeding.

In-Depth: Kleinert’s status with APD

Det. Charles Kleinert retired from the Austin police force on Oct. 22. Kleinert’s retirement after nearly 20 years on the job allowed the longtime officer to:

  • Avoid internal discipline from the chief that might have followed October’s Citizen’s Review Panel hearing and its recommendations.
  • Immediately collect his pension. It is granted to officers who have served a full 23 years. Kleinert was able to buy out his remaining three years and several months to permit the collection of a full pension. The Austin Police Association confirms an officer’s pension is theirs to keep even in the event of a criminal conviction.

Austin police salary scales for 2013-2014 show a detective corporal with 19-20 years of service earns up to $99,800 a year. The prior year pay scale shows a salary of $98,327. A senior police official said Tuesday officers who have served a full 23 years retire on 73.6% of the highest three years of the last ten years of base salary.

Pension records are protected under state law, but calculations show Kleinert will be eligible to collect $72,329 annually. It will be taxed at a normal rate, the official said.

In-Depth: Pending civil lawsuits

The Austin City Council decided in February it could not reach a lawsuit settlement with the family of Larry Jackson, Jr. before a Travis County grand jury got the case.

Family attorney Bobby Taylor said the decision puts Jackson’s three children in a tough spot.

“It has caused me to rethink what I thought was reasonable efforts to resolve this,” Taylor said. “I’m going to have to do some serious, serious thinking about this.”

Jackson’s parents and sister filed a separate civil suit against the city and APD. They are represented by another attorney.

Any money for lawsuit settlement would come from the city’s liability reserve fund.  The city has a financial cap on any award.

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