Ex-Officer Charles Kleinert won’t face manslaughter charge

Charles "Trey" Kleinert at indictment hearing. (KXAN Photo)
Charles "Trey" Kleinert at indictment hearing. (KXAN Photo)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — A federal appeals court has upheld a lower court’s ruling that the manslaughter case against former Austin Police Department detective Charles Kleinert remains dismissed.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit heard the case in September of last year and made a determination Thursday. In its ruling, the appeals court agreed with U.S. District Judge Lee Yeakel’s decision to dismiss the Travis County indictment because he was acting as a federal officer when he shot and killed 32-year-old Larry Jackson Jr. in 2013.

Larry Jackson Jr. (Courtesy: Jackson family)

The State argued that the circumstances surrounding Jackson’s presence at Benchmark Bank on the day of the shooting were “insufficiently developed” and that Kleinert didn’t have probable cause of any federal felony to try to arrest Jackson. The court determined by viewing all the facts from that day, the evidence constituted enough probable cause because Kleinert saw Jackson try to enter the bank by lying about his identity so he could take money from someone else’s account.

Numerous law enforcement officers testified during the hearing that Kleinert acted “consistently with training,” continued in the ruling. Jackson was shot once in the head during the struggle with Kleinert.

This ruling does not, however, shield Kleinert from prosecution by federal authorities or civil liability under federal law if that were to happen. For now, it appears the State’s case against Kleinert has come to an end, unless they appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Last year, Jackson’s family said they were hoping for the ruling to be reversed.

Kleinert’s attorney, Randy Leavitt, released the following statement: “We are pleased with the opinion and hopeful that the Kleinert family can soon get some closure on this tragic event. All 4 federal judges that have reviewed the evidence in this case have agreed that Trey was acting in his capacity as a federal officer and was carrying out his duties in a necessary and proper manner. This decision is now 4 years in the making and it is time for everyone to move forward.”

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