AUSTIN (KXAN) – The former Austin police officer who shot and killed a man fleeing from the scene of a bank robbery in July 2013 will hear the facts in his case argued before a federal court judge March 3.
The evidenciary hearing is designed for the judge to decide if there are sufficient grounds to keep the case at the federal level rather than returning it to District Court where a grand jury indicted Det. Charles Kleinert on a manslaughter charge in May 2014. In December, he entered a plea of not guilty in the death of Larry Jackson Jr.
Federal Court Judge Lee Yeakel accepted the defense’s plea on Tuesday to have the case removed from District Court because of Kleinert’s role on an FBI task force the day he shot Larry Jackson. Attorneys for Travis County’s District Attorney’s Office argued neither state law nor federal law protects a police officer from Kleinert’s “reckless” behavior, including how he allegedly chased down Jackson and struggled with him. They said the case should remain at the district level.
Yeakel called this case “a unique situation” without a lot of supporting case law. He also requested lawyers for the U.S. Government file their definition of what constitutes a federal police officer.
Kleinert’s attorney Randy Leavitt said Tuesday that moving the case to federal court is “a step in the process” and “where he needs to be” to successfully defend his client, including using the argument federal agents can be subject to immunity from criminal prosecution while carrying out their law enforcement duties. The federal venue also includes a broader jury pool should it come to trial.