'Federal Immunity' saved APD officer Kleinert from standing trial

Late Thursday afternoon Charles "Trey" Kleinert's attorney Randy Leavitt spoke with his client about what they consider a major victory.

"He's emotional.  He's relieved.  He's glad at least this portion of it has finally come to a conclusion," Leavitt said.

Judge Lee Yeakel dropped the manslaughter charge against Kleinert for the death of Larry Jackson Jr.

"We think the court was 100% correct in this ruling.  We felt that way all along, we didn't think that this case should have ever been indicted," Leavitt said.

July 26, 2013: Kleinert -- a detective with APD at the time was investigating a bank robbery in central Austin.

Jackson came to the bank allegedly to cash a stolen check.  Kleinert confronted him, Jackson ran away.

After a chase, Kleinert and Jackson ended up in a struggle under a nearby bridge where Jackson was shot in the back of the head.  Kleinert retired from the force and was indicted for manslaughter.

So why was the charge dropped?  Kleinert was acting as a Federal officer.  So something called "Supremacy Clause Immunity" saved him.

"Federal officers are given a little bit more protection.  They cannot be charged criminally for a state crime so long as they are acting in good faith, carrying out their duties," Leavitt said.

Nelson Linder with the Austin chapter of the NAACP calls the ruling "evil."

And he says the FBI can't stay silent.

"They've got to say something.  You can kill somebody under Federal immunity?  Really, in America?  Really?" Linder said.

Linder says the NAACP and the community will fight this with everything they've got.

"Battles on every front.  On the street, in the courtrooms.  We need more black robes and less white robes," Linder said.  "I think clearly folks are going to protest in the streets.  I think that's a good thing.  But our protest is in the courts in this country and I think there are ways to address this thing from a legal standpoint still and expose these people," Linder said.

And that court battle may not be over yet.  Leavitt says the District Attorney can appeal.

"It's our hope and prayer that Ms. Lehmberg does not appeal this.  But if she does, we fully intend to defend the court in this matter and take it up to the next level, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals," Leavitt said.

Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg released this statement:

"I am totally dismayed by today's federal court action dismissing the Charles Kleinert prosecution.  A Travis County Grand Jury spent considerable time reviewing this case and indicted Charles Kleinert for manslaughter.  With this federal court action dismissing the case, it appears that an Austin Police Department officer can be assigned to a federal task force and avoid prosecution in state court. We will review the federal court's opinion and determine what steps we can take, if any, in the near future."

Chief Art Acevedo with APD sent this statement: "The Austin Police Department respects the courts ruling and the rule of law. Our thoughts are with everyone involved in this tragic incident and their families.

I have reached out to community leaders and have shared the aforementioned thoughts on this matter. I know Austin citizens have been aware of the possibility of this judicial ruling in the criminal case, and we have had many conversations about it in the community. I hope all parties will continue a productive dialogue."

By the way, the City of Austin already settled with the three children of Larry Jackson Jr.
   
They were given more than a million dollars. And there's still a pending Civil case that today's ruling has nothing to do with.

 

WATCH REACTION FROM ADAM LOEWY, THE JACKSON FAMILY’S CIVIL LAWYER.
 

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