AUSTIN, Texas - Two Austin police officers who were fired over a 2018 tasing incident are getting their jobs back.
An independent arbitrator has ruled that the city of Austin was not justified in firing Officers Robert Pfaff and Donald Petraitis. Both were acquitted in a December 2018 trial for using excessive force, assault, and tampering with a government record.
The charges stemmed from a February 2018 incident near Red River and 12th streets. Body camera video showed the officers deploy a taser on 30-year-old Quentin Perkins, who was on his knees with his hands up. The state argued Pfaff and Petraitis assaulted Perkins and lied about what happened in their report.
A city spokesperson released a statement on the ruling, saying they are "surprised and very disappointed."
"We maintain that the officers' actions do not meet the high standards we expect from our police force," the spokesperson said. "We will continue to examine our policies and procedures to ensure they are consistent with what the community expects and deserves from its law enforcement personnel."
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CLEAT, the state's largest law enforcement union, is claiming the ruling as a monumental legal victory.
"Thank goodness this case was not left in the hands of axe-grinding politicos like the District Attorney, the Mayor and the
Police Chief," said executive director Charley Wilkison. "This case is an example of the whimsical winds that blow from those hell bent on molding police departments into their own political machinery."
"Now an unbiased ruling has established what CLEAT has maintained all along, there was no case against Officers Pfaff
and Petraitis except for those pushing a political agenda," he added.
The arbitrator's ruling not only reinstates the officers but entitles them to back pay.