Travis County DA seeks US Supreme Court review of Kleinert case

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

AUSTIN (KXAN) — The Travis County district attorney is seeking a review of the case against a former Austin police detective before the U.S. Supreme Court.

A team of assistant district attorneys is preparing a petition that will be filed in the nation’s highest court.

On May 12, 2014, a Travis County grand jury issued a felony manslaughter indictment against Charles Kleinert after the shooting of Larry Jackson, Jr. on July 27, 2013.

Kleinert was at the Benchmark Bank in the 1500 block of West 35th Street investigating an unrelated bank robbery when Jackson tried to get into the bank, but the doors were locked. When an employee told Kleinert that Jackson was trying to get into the bank, he stepped outside to talk to him but after a few minutes Jackson ran away.

Kleinert chased after Jackson and also received a ride from a passing driver to help catch up with Jackson underneath the Shoal Creek bridge. After a struggle, the officer’s gun discharged one time striking Jackson in the back of the head. Jackson did not have a weapon on him. Police believe Jackson was originally at the bank to commit fraud.

More than a year after the indictment, the U.S. District Court for the Western District, Austin Division, dismissed the indictment, after Kleinert was granted immunity under federal law because he was serving on a federal task force. The DA’s Office then appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth District.

On April 20 of this year, the appeals court affirmed the lower court’s dismissal, followed by the DA’s challenging of the ruling. On May 25, the DA’s motion for a rehearing was denied.

District Attorney Margaret Moore says they remain firmly committed “to seeking the fair administration of justice as well as clarity regarding the immunity granted by the court in this matter.”

Moore announced a contract approved by the Commissioners Court that will allow them to add former Texas Supreme Court Justice Wallace Jefferson and his law firm, Alexander, Dubose, Jeffoerson and Townsend, to join the team.

The District Attorney’s Office says that Jefferson, who served as chief justice from 2004 to 2013, has twice won cases he personally argued in front of the U.S. Supreme Court.

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