AUSTIN (KXAN) — A jury sentenced Miguel Macias to 32 years in prison after finding him guilty of aggravated assault on a police officer with a deadly weapon. Prosecutors contended that as the driver of a car, Macias was trying to injure Officer Shane Cunningham, prompting the officer to open fire. The jury handed down the verdict just before noon Thursday and returned with the punishment just after 5 p.m.
The case started when police responded to a burglary call in August of last year, at a business near MoPac and U.S. Highway 183. Video of that night was played in a Travis County courtroom Wednesday, showing an Austin police officer firing 15 rounds into a car and hitting the driver five times — including one shot in the head.
Defense attorney Leonard Martinez maintains Macias was just trying to get away and not hurt anyone.
“Things happened so quickly. I don’t think anyone had time to formulate intent. It was all reaction: fight or flee,” he said. “He’s holding up well. It’s difficult, but he’s just glad to be alive. He was shot five times.”
Cunningham was responding to a burglary call on Aug. 31, 2013. Macias has been charged with those burglaries at the Johnson Supply Company and dashcam shows his vehicle backing up before moving forward and striking the arriving patrol car. Cunningham can then be heard yelling orders for Macias and passenger James Hanlon to put their hands up while the suspect’s vehicle appears to be pushing the patrol car backward.
That is when the gunshots were fired.
In addition to the criminal charges against Macias, a civil suit has also been filed against him by Cunningham. Although the suit asks for monetary relief between $100,000 and $200,000, Cunningham testified Wednesday he filed the suit not for money, but out of principle and support of his fellow Austin police officers.
A grand jury returned a “no-bill” against Cunningham in August, determining he was justified in the use of force.
Because Macias served time on two prior convictions, if convicted in this case he would get a minimum of 25 years in prison, and be eligible for parole in half that.