Hearing reset for former APD officer indicted on manslaughter

AUSTIN (KXAN) — The first scheduled pretrial hearing for a former Austin Police Department detective charged with manslaughter has been reset.

While the pretrial hearing for Charles Kleinert was set for June 24, it has now been reset to Aug. 1.

Kleinert is charged in the shooting death of Larry Jackson Jr. in 2013.

A Travis County grand jury on May 12 indicted Kleinert on manslaughter charges, saying he recklessly handled his gun when he shot Jackson. Kleinert turned himself in to the Travis County Justice Complex that same day.

The second-degree felony charge is punishable between two- and 20 years in prison and up to a $10,000 fine.

KXAN News has been following this case with in-depth coverage.

Before Kleinert’s May 12 indictment, the grand jury had been examining his actions related to the July 2013 deadly shooting of Larry Jackson, Jr.

The group ruled Kleinert created “a substantial and unjustifiable risk” when he attempted to physically control Jackson while holding a loaded gun, court documents said. It also said Kleinert recklessly caused Jackson’s death by striking him while holding a loaded firearm in that hand.

“We are disappointed about the grand jury decision (Monday) but not surprised by the events,” said Randy T. Leavitt, Kleinert’s attorney. “With all of the publicity and leaks surrounding the case anything can happen…We look forward to the day we get to participate in the proceedings and tell the whole story about what happened.”

On July 26, 2013, Jackson showed up at a bank that had just been robbed — a crime scene 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.

“Convicted criminals who resist arrest and flee to avoid apprehension place the public, themselves and the police in high-risk, no-win situations,” said Charley Wilkison, executive director of the Combined Law Enforcement Associations of Texas.”

The grand jury said Kleinert did not maintain a sufficient distance from Jackson in which he could safely holster the gun.

“This is a very good day for justice,” attorney Adam Loewy said following the ruling. “(Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg) delivered, and her team delivered.”

“There is a God and does answer prayer,” Larry Jackson Jr.’s father added. Jackson Jr.’s mother said the ruling was the best Mother’s Day gift she could have asked for.

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.
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 percent 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.

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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