Texas Judge Tosses Manslaughter Charge for Detective Who Shot Unarmed Black Man, Larry Jackson Jr., in 2013

Larry Jackson Jr. (Family photo)
Larry Jackson Jr. (Family photo)

On Thursday night, just four days before the former Austin police officer was set to stand trial, a federal judge in Texas dismissed a manslaughter charge against Charles Kleinert in the 2013 shooting death of Larry Jackson Jr., an unarmed black man.

The ruling by U.S. District Judge Lee Yeakel cites a little known 1889 case that determined federal agents can be granted immunity from state criminal charges and undoes one of a handful of indictments handed down to police officers out of the thousands of fatal police shootings that have occurred in recent years.

Kleinert was one of 54 officers to be charged in connection with a fatal on-duty shooting from 2005 to 2014, according to a Washington Post analysis published earlier this year. So far in 2015, there have been more than 800 fatal on-duty police shootings that have resulted in charges for just five officers, according to a Post database.

Jackson, 32, was shot to death on July 26, 2013, after he visited his local bank.

The bank was on lockdown after a robbery earlier in the day. Austin Police have said that Jackson returned to the bank a second time, at which point he was confronted by Kleinert, a detective who was in the bank investigating the robbery. After a few minutes, Jackson ran.

Kleinert gave chase, commandeering the vehicle of a woman driving in the area.

“(Kleinert) was breathless and agitated and yelled, ‘Go go go’ and ‘follow him’ multiple times,” the woman, Regina Bethune, told KVUE, a local television station, in February. “He seemed very out of control and highly agitated. I was uncertain if he was really a police officer or not. I realize that either way I needed to remain calm and help him try to calm down. He did not identify himself any further once in the car. He did not tell me his name or offer any explanation as to what was going on.”

Kleinert caught up to Jackson underneath a bridge. The officer said he drew his weapon and that during a violent struggle it accidentally discharged, putting a bullet in the back of Jackson’s neck.

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Source: The Washington Post | Wesley Lowery