Austin police officers back in court for day 2 of trial regarding tasing incident
AUSTIN, Texas (FOX 7 Austin) - Two Austin Police SWAT officers are on trial this week for a tasing incident earlier this year. They're accused of using force when the suspect was already complying with commands. Prosecutors say they also lied about what happened in their reports to justify the tasing.
On Tuesday when the trial began, Austin Police officers -- now defendants -- Robert Pfaff and Donald Petraitis pleaded "not guilty" to a number of Grand Jury indictments like tampering with evidence, tampering with a government record, aggravated perjury and more.
To recap, on February 16 of this year near 12th and Red River, a shooting was reported. When police officers arrived, there was a crowd of people at the scene.
The responding officers, not sure if the shooting suspect was in that crowd, told everyone to get on the ground. That's when officers Pfaff and Petraitis arrived in a patrol car, engaged 30-year-old Quinten Perkins, gave him commands and eventually tased him.
Perkins admits he was high on marijuana laced with PCP.
As the trial continued Wednesday, some focus was put on what Perkins was arrested and charged with: "Failure to comply with a lawful order," a Class C Misdemeanor which he actually pleaded guilty to later. Perkins testified on Tuesday to doing that because he "wanted to get back to work."
In court Wednesday, Sgt. Richard Egal took the stand. The jury watched Egal's body cam footage showing both officers Pfaff and Petraitis recounting the events minutes after the tasing. They claimed Perkins was on his feet, hands in his hoodie, backing up into the darkness and not responding to their commands to get on the ground.
By the way Pfaff and Petraitis hadn't been issued body cams yet because they typically worked SWAT. But one of the responding officer's body cam's appears to show Perkins in a well-lit area on his knees with his hands in the air when the officers deployed the taser.
Sgt. Egal testified he was "surprised" when he saw the video.
In their opening statements defense attorneys claimed the scene was chaotic and even though Perkins eventually dropped to his knees and put his hands up that's not what the officers were telling him to do.
Defense attorneys argue the tasing was justified.
The trial is expected to last a few more days.
The stakes are high for these officers, they're facing jailtime for this. A jury will make the call.