Taking out a wallet to fish for ID may be the first thing many drivers do when pulled over by the police. But when James Barton of Austin, Texas did just that, Officer Justin Boehm shot at him. Although Barton was not hit, he was badly frightened by the incident.
A grand jury opted not to indict the officer, but Boehm was removed from his position for his misuse of a firearm.
Barton, 55, recalled the incident to local channel KVUE, saying that he reached for his wallet and then the officer “just jumped out of his [vehicle] and Boom!! I dropped my wallet, and he said 'Don’t move! Get back in the car! Get back in the car!' And I got back in. 'Put your hands up!' And I put my hands up, and he said 'Get out of the car and get on the ground!' And he's screaming, and I got out of the car, and I laid down on the ground,'"
Barton had been pulled over for running a stoplight. After parking, he exited the vehicle and began walking toward the police car. Boehm said he ordered the man to remain in his truck, but Barton said he did not hear him. When Barton reached to his waistband to retrieve a black object, the officer fired and missed.
"If anybody would have honked or spooked him I wouldn't be here; I'm really very, very lucky," said Barton.
Although criminal charges are not being pursued, a civil suit is underway over the incident. Barton’s attorney, Jim Harrington of the Texas Civil Rights Project, said, “The city council has got to become responsible for what's going on with the police department. It's been dodging its responsibility. It's got to hold the police chief accountable. He cannot continue to get away with making up his fabricated stories that blame the victim.”