Dismissal hearing ended in fatal police shooting, judge to decide

Testimony ended Friday in a hearing to decide if a trial will be held in a fatal police shooting.

Former APD Detective Charles Kleinert left federal court waiting to learn if his defense team did enough to win him immunity from prosecution.

"Well, this is a very difficult case. It’s a very tragic situation. The state has never alleged or indicated this was an intentional act; they put the case up as an unintentional death, a tragic death. It’s been difficult for everyone involved," Eric Nichols, defense attorney, said.

On July 26, 2013, Kleinert was investigating a north Austin bank robbery as a member of a federal task force. He had a confrontation with a man identified as Larry Jackson, who was allegedly trying to cash a stolen check.

Jackson ran away before being arrested— and after a brief foot pursuit, Kleinert and Jackson got into a struggle under a nearby bridge. There, Jackson was shot and killed.

Prosecutors argue that Kleinert's actions were irresponsible, negating his immunity claim. For the past few days, the fight has been over which policy should apply: state or federal.

Jonathan Preist, a forensic analyst, provided critical testimony for the prosecution.

According to Preist, Kleinert made several mistakes, including:

  • forgetting to take his portable radio
  • not asking bank employees to call 911
  • getting into a woman's car to continue the chase

Lastly, the expert says using the “Hammer Fist Strike” tactic to subdue Jackson while he held a gun in the same hand was a mistake.

"We don’t think [APD] policy plays into it. All, the question is, whether or not what he did was necessary and proper," lead defense attorney Randy Leavitt said.

Defense attorneys did bring up federal policy Friday and called FBI Special Agent Dennis May, who is Kleinert's supervisor, to testify.
According to May, federal agents are obligated to apprehend fleeing suspects and not let them go, as suggested by prosecutors as a viable option.

May also testified that there is no federal policy against foot pursuits when an agent is alone or without a radio to call for backup, and there is not federal policy prohibiting the Hammer Strike tactic while holding a gun.

As the hearing started to wrap up, U.S. District Judge Lee Yeakel said a lot of information brought up is not relevant to the immunity question before him. He warned attorneys that much of the irrelevant information may have little to no factor in his ruling.

A decision is expected before the end of the month and before the scheduled November trial date. Regardless of what is decided, an appeal is expected which would delay the trial.