Officers who responded to 2013 standoff involving Gene Vela testify at trial

Gene Vela sat quietly Thursday as his attorney Skip Davis tried to turn the prosecutor's evidence against him upside down.

"Gene is the victim in this case," said Davis.

Much of the day was spent grilling the police officers who were at the Nov 10th, 2013 standoff at Vela's central Austin apartment.

"I think they should have backed off," said Davis.

Sgt. Andy Westbrook was in charge that night for what began as a welfare check.

"The danger is he could have shot anybody," said Sgt. Westbrook.

Initially the officers who arrived did not identify themselves. Westbrook explained that the situation quickly changed. The jury watched dash cam video showing the officers scrambling for cover when they spotted vela in his apartment with a gun.

"I chose to push my officer out of the way so he wouldn't get shot before I drew my gun," said Sgt. Westbrook.

As the standoff continued Westbrook said he believed he heard vela loading a gun in a back room. He demonstrated for the jury the noise that action makes. The situation had escalated - according to Westbrook not only by vela displaying a gun - but because he also flashed at them what appeared to be a laser sighting device.

The light beam flashed across the officers on the second floor. It even darted down into a parking area near 2 officers who would eventually shoot vela with their tactical rifles.

"At that point Mr. Vela, in my opinion as an active aggressor shooter type of situation and it was no question Mr. Vela knew we were police"

Late Thursday, one of the officers who shot Vela testified he pulled the trigger because he believed Vela was about to shoot Sgt. Westbrook.

Before being shot- Vela got a call from a 911 dispatcher who told him police were at the scene. But Davis argues -his client- a former marine with PTSD - was in no state to believe that call.

"What if somebody calls you up and says hey I got police officers at your front door, and it turns out to be somebody that wants to rob you."

Davis believes the phone call wasn't enough - and the officers didn't do enough which is why he wants an acquittal.


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