AUSTIN (KXAN) — The trial date for a former Austin Police detective charged with manslaughter in a 2013 shooting has tentatively been set for Nov. 2. Charles Kleinert shot and killed Larry Jackson Jr. after a chase and struggle under a Central Austin bridge.
A federal judge decided last week the Kleinert trial should be moved from state court to federal court. The request was approved by the judge because Kleinert was serving on a federal task force while investigating a bank robbery when he shot Jackson.
The biggest difference between state and federal court is the jury. Since this case will now go to federal court, jurors will be selected from several surrounding counties. Jury selection is also tentatively set for Nov. 2.
On May 7, the judge set a motion to dismiss a hearing for Sept. 30. The defense has up to 60 days to file a motion, making that deadline on or before July 7.
Ruling to keep case in federal court
A federal judge on April 28 ruled the case of a former Austin police detective accused of shooting and killing Larry Jackson, Jr. will remain in federal court. Charles Kleinert’s attorneys have said his gun accidentally went off when he caught up to and tried to detain Jackson, striking him in the back of the head and killing him.
Judge Lee Yeakel issued the ruling, saying U.S. District Court has jurisdiction over the case, specifically because of Kleinert’s assertion that he was working on a federal task force and is immune to prosecution as a result of his status as a federal agent.
Continuing Coverage: Larry Jackson Jr. Shooting
In the ruling, Yeakel states “The issue of whether Kleinert is entitled to federal-officer immunity is an issue for another day.”
On the day Kleinert is charged with shooting and killing Jackson while working for the Austin Police Department, he was also on an FBI task force. At the federal level, Kleinert attorney Randy Leavitt can argue that federal agents can be subject to immunity from criminal prosecution while carrying out their law enforcement duties. That’s a defense typically used in civil cases where a federal agent is being sued for money. Attorneys for the Travis County District Attorney’s Office argue that neither state nor federal law protects a police officer from what they describe as reckless behavior.
In July 2013, Kleinert was the detective investigating a bank robbery when police say he chased down Jackson, struggled with him, and shot him. Kleinert is facing a manslaughter charge for which he has entered a not guilty plea.
Kleinert’s attorney Randy Leavitt says he and his client are pleased with the ruling.
The Jackson family’s civil lawyer, Adam Loewy, said he’s confident moving the case will speed up the trial.