Travis County grand jury clears Austin police officer in use of force case

A Travis County Special Grand Jury concluded its review of the October 2021 officer-involved shooting in Austin, and did not return an indictment for the officer.

On Oct. 27, 2021, Code Compliance officers for the City of Austin went to clear the weeds at a home located at 10610 Pinkney Lane. The Code Compliance officers knocked and notified Robert Richart that they had a signed order to cut his yard and attempted to give him a copy. Richart did not open his door but responded verbally through the window.

Once the city employees began to clear the yard, shots were fired from Richart’s home at the employees, some neighbors and police who were overseeing the cleanup, Travis County District Attorney José Garza said.

The SWAT unit was called to handle the situation, and they surrounded the house and looked for a way to gain access. Richart continued to shoot at officers in the backyard numerous times. 

SWAT attempted to get a robot to make entry through the front door, but when it got inside, the video from the robot showed a large fire coming from another part of the home, and the robot was withdrawn. 

Soon afterward, with smoke coming out of the home, Richart opened his garage door and came out armed with a rifle and pistol. He was shot as he came out of the garage by Officer Eric Strnad of the SWAT team. Strnad fired six times, Garza said.

Richart was pronounced dead at the scene.