Travis County district attorney wants rehearing in Kleinert case

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

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Travis County District Attorney Margaret Moore says she wants the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals to take a second look at the case against former Austin Police Department detective Charles Kleinert after they dismissed it last week. The federal appeals court upheld a lower court’s ruling that the manslaughter case against Kleinert remains dismissed.

In a letter dated April 26, Moore says her office is seeking a rehearing of the decision by all of the judges who serve on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, which originally heard the case in September of last year and made a determination last Thursday.

Moore says after reviewing the ruling, she believes “that the legal issues raised in this case are so important to the State and to local law enforcement agencies that those issues should be considered by the entire court.”

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,” the ruling continued. 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.

In a newsletter sent out earlier this week, the Austin Police Association president said he hopes the Travis County District Attorney’s Office “comes to the realization that it would be a waste of taxpayer dollars to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.”

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 four 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 four years in the making and it is time for everyone to move forward.”

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

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