AUSTIN, Texas - Testimony heated up Tuesday in the trial of a Marine veteran with PTSD. Gene Vela was shot during a standoff with Austin police nearly two years ago.
The trial closed with Gene Vela's defense team continuing to portray him as the victim . The focus of testimony from a witness for the defense portrayed the police officers,who were sent to check on Vela, as mistake prone aggressors.
Defense attorney Skip Davis hopes to convince the jury that during the November 2013 standoff with Austin police his client, Gene Vela, was emotionally distressed and he did not realize police were at his apartment. To help make that point, Gary Rini, an analyst for the defense, took the stand and criticized how the officers responded that night.
"That they didn't make adequate effort to identify themselves as being Austin Police Officers and being there to help him," said Rini.
Vela has PTSD and because police didn't initially identify themselves, Vela claims he thought he was being attacked. Davis's co-counsel clarified Tuesday that Vela did not think the attackers were Muslims, but they had only raised the possible scenario because it's been claimed in other incidents involving veterans with PTSD.
According Davis, Vela was only defending himself that night from unknown assailants.
Defense analyst Gary Rini blamed the 911 dispatcher who took the original check welfare call for not classifying the situation as a mental health crisis.
"There was the start of it right there, could have nipped it in the bud right there," said Rini.
One of the first officers on the scene, Ryan Hancock, who had a prior run-in with vela was also criticized. In Rini's opinion, Hancock failed to properly address the potentially volatile situation they were walking into.
"Is there something else you could have done to de-escalate the situation, short of shooting somebody? This is,there was and they didnt follow policy and procedures," said Rini.
The jury was shown pictures of Vela in the hospital after he was shot before a SWAT team could arrive. Despite his injuries, prosecutors argue it was Vela who was at fault. He allegedly waved his gun while inside his apartment and flashed a laser targeting device with officers just outside.
Rini's testimony wrapped up with a heated exchange with lead prosecutor Pat McNelis. The two got into a heated exchange over whether or not Vela was actually pointing a gun at police.
Vela's attorney rested their defense.
Blaming PTSD won't clear Vela of the charges but the condition is expected to be a factor during closing arguments which may take place Wednesday.