An autopsy report shows that an Austin police officer who was indicted for killing a man last year placed his muzzle on the victim’s neck, raising questions about the supposedly accidental shooting.
The report, obtained by KVUE and the Austin American-Statesman, shows that the officer’s gun muzzle was pressed up against the neck of Larry Eugene Jackson. It also revealed that Jackson had suffered injuries including fractured ribs and bruises.
Detective Charles Kleinert was indicted last week on a manslaughter charge by a Travis County grand jury. He will soon take the stand in a criminal trial that will likely be a heated one, with Kleinert's attorney maintaining that the two men struggled violently while the victim’s parents say the officer used excessive force.
“There is nothing in this autopsy report that is inconsistent with what actually happened,” Kleinert defense attorney Randy Leavitt said Wednesday. “The gun went off while Jackson was struggling with Detective Kleinert as he was attempting to make a lawful arrest."
The events that led up to the shooting are hazy. The detective chased Jackson, who fled after Kleinert attempted to question him at a bank that had been robbed. Police say that Jackson was not suspected in the robbery, but that he might have been trying to carry out a forgery as he entered the bank that day.
Kleinert said that the shooting that resulted from the chase was an accident. Jackson was unarmed.
Kleinert turned himself in after the indictment, but has been released pending trial.
Billie Mercer, Jackson’s mother, filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the detective and the city. She praised the grand jury’s decision to indict Kleinert.
“He was my heart,” Mercer told the Austin American-Statesman, when speaking of Jackson.
Austin Mayor Lee Leffingwell said in a statement that the incident does not “reflect the ideals or nature of our city's police department.
“Austin is thankful to have one of the best police forces in the country; one that tirelessly works to ensure that our community and city remain safe."