Suspended officer will not be indicted for tasing man

Moments before Officer Van Buren tased Armando Martinez (via APD)
Moments before Officer Van Buren tased Armando Martinez (via APD)

Warning: Strong language in video.

AUSTIN (KXAN) — An Austin police officer who was suspended for 90 days after using his taser on a man will not be indicted, a Travis County grand jury decided Friday.

On Aug. 27, 2015, Officer Christopher Van Buren was dispatched, along with another officer, to the 2700 block of Gonzales Street for a report of a man urinating in public next to a Sonic. When the officers arrived, the man, identified as Armando Martinez, was lying on his back underneath a tree.

When Van Buren approached the man, he pulled out his Taser and ordered him to get up. Before the man was allowed to comply, Van Buren deployed the Taser. The Internal Affairs department determined the officer’s actions were in violation of department policy and were unjustifiable.

Martinez was taken to University Medical Center Brackenridge where he was treated for an unrelated condition and released a few hours later, according to the Travis County District Attorney’s Office. He was given citations for two Class C misdemeanors: public intoxication and disorderly conduct. Witnesses told police that Martinez was urinating in full view of several families and their young children.

In an interview with investigators, Van Buren’s police partner during the incident said, after watching the dash cam video and seeing that Martinez’s hands were in front of him, he would not have tased the man. Martinez also told investigators that he was slow to respond as a result of “severe neuropathy.”

The grand jury heard around six hours of testimony from four witnesses before deciding not to charge the officer.

Van Buren’s suspension ends on April 12. He has worked as an officer with the Austin Police Department since May 2013.

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