Austin police officer loses appeal, firing upheld

Austin police

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Austin Police Officer Justin Boehm lost his appeal following Chief Art Acevedo’s decision last October to indefinitely suspend him from the force.

Boehm received the suspension after his involvement in a shooting near 12th Street and Airport Boulevard on May 8, 2013. The punishment came after a Travis County grand jury declined to indict him.

The Austin Police Dpartment conducted an investigation into the incident and found that Boehm violated three different policies when he shot at 55-year-old James Barton, including their response to resistance clause.

“He was not consistent with what we expect at the Austin Police Department,” Acevedo said in October. “This is a profession where you don’t get a bad day when it comes to deadly force.”

The grand jury met three times to consider the case, even hearing from seven witnesses, including the four-year APD veteran.

Barton said Boehm pulled him over around 7:50 a.m. that day for running a stop light in his pickup. Barton has said he opened the door, stepped out of the car with his wallet in both hands and walked toward Boehm.

Boehm, however, told the grand jury he was cautious of Barton after he saw him reaching to the right in his truck. After being stopped, Barton got out of his truck and walked toward Boehm’s police car — even though Boehm said he ordered him to stay inside the truck.

Boehm said as Barton walked toward him, he saw him reach into the waistband area of his coveralls using both hands. Boehm again ordered Barton to stay in his truck and when Barton pulled a black object out of his pocket, Boehm told investigators he feared for his life — believing Barton had a weapon — and fired one time at him.

“If anybody would have honked or spooked him I wouldn’t be here, I’m really very very luck,” said Barton.

The shot barely missed Barton, who then dropped the black object and returned to his truck. The object was later determined to be his wallet. Barton said he had to go to the hospital after having a panic attack from a prior heart condition, and he was released him a short time later.

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