Grand jury clears officer in deadly 2013 shooting

Austin police

AUSTIN (KXAN) – A Travis County grand jury declined to issue an indictment against an Austin police officer who shot and killed a man last year.

Officer Jonathan Whitted responded to a home after John Schaefer called 911 to say he had shot and killed a dog that attacked him in his backyard.

The shooting happened in 10000 block of Lanshire Drive on March 1, 2013, near Kramer Lane and Metric Boulevard.

One week earlier, on February 24, 2013, Schaefer called 911 in regards to a dog in his backyard.  In that call, Schaefer ignored the dispatcher’s request to stay inside his home until police arrived and not confront the dog.

“I will be outside, thank you,” he told the dispatcher. “I can take care of myself, including with police, if I need to.”

“What does that mean?” the dispatcher asked.

“That means that I will take care of myself,” Schaefer said. “I will protect myself at whatever cost.”

On March 1, 2013, Schaefer called 911 a few minutes after the shooting saying a dog had attacked him and he shot the animal.

While on his way to the home, Whitted asked dispatchers to call Schaefer back and request he not have the gun on his person when officers arrive.

“No ma’am,” he told the dispatcher. “I have a (concealed handgun license) and I won’t give my gun up.”

When Whitted got to the home and approached the front door, he said Schaefer came outside with the gun in a holster on his hip.

The officer then reached for one of Schaefer’s hands to temporarily restrain him and secure the weapon during the investigation. As he did so, Schaefer pulled his hand away a drew his weapon, pointing it at Whitted, the officer said.

According to court documents, Whitted then pulled out his gun and shot Schaefer two times in the chest, killing him.

The grand jury heard approximately seven hours of testimony from nine witnesses, including two independent eyewitnesses to the shooting.

“The grand jury understood that Officer Whitted did what was necessary to protect his own life and the lives of others nearby,” said Charley Wilkison, executive director of the Combined Law Enforcement Associations of Texas. “The tragic lesson here is that armed citizens should always obey the lawful commands of police officers to put down their weapons and let the authorities do their jobs.”

The original version of this story incorrectly referenced the 911 call on February 24, 2013 as having happened on March 1, 2013.  KXAN has since updated the story to reflect the correct timeline of events.  We regret the error.

 

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