Offense: Aggravated Assault with a Deadly Weapon on a Public Servant
The Allegation: While responding to a 9-1-1 report of domestic violence, two police officers met the complainant in a parking lot, determined that no offense had been committed and cleared the call. Two other officers, however, continued to the residence and encountered our client, who was reportedly intoxicated and carrying a firearm in his shorts as he was carrying his personal property to his vehicle. One of the officers was armed with a patrol rifle and made contact with our client, yelling commands for him to take his hands out of his pockets. The officer then claimed that our client pulled a handgun from his pocket, joined both hands on the gun, raised and extended his arms, pointing the barrel directly at him. Fearing for his life, the officer fired, striking our client in the torso. The shooting was investigated by the Texas Rangers, who supported the officer’s story, and the shooting was declared justified by a Grand Jury based on their investigation. Our client survived, and after medical treatment, was later charged with the crime.
Our Client: He had no criminal history, a good job, and two teenage daughters from a previous marriage. He had some challenges with alcohol and was in a dating relationship with the complainant when the incident occurred.
His Version of the Story: He admitted that he was intoxicated, and had a bad argument with his girlfriend, but denied any violence or threats. After she left the house, he began packing his things into his truck. He made several trips when someone began yelling at him, and as he turned towards the voice, a bright flashlight blinded him. He had no idea what was happening, but suddenly he felt a tremendous punch to his stomach and fell to the ground.
Our Findings: During our investigation, we found that the officer was operating under severe stress, which affected his decision-making ability. He failed to start his dashcam or his bodycam and decided to arm himself with his patrol rifle. He claimed he did not hear the first two officers report that there was no offense. His official statement, which took him six days to write and described our client pointing a gun at him, was proven false when we conducted a detailed recreation of the event. Our recreation was validated by a nearby Nest doorbell camera, which recorded our client taking a Copenhagen can and his pistol out of his pockets and dropping them on the ground a full second before the officer pulled his trigger. At no time did our client ever join hands on the weapon, raise his arms or point the gun at the officer, or present any kind of threat. Through our expert testimony of firearms mechanics, we were able to demonstrate conclusively that the officer’s attention was divided, and he lost focus on the pressure he was applying to the trigger, resulting in a negligent discharge. The officer was willing to send our client to prison for decades to cover up his mistake, while the Texas Rangers demonstrated clear bias towards the officer in conducting a shoddy investigation.
The Outcome: The jury voted unanimously to acquit our client of all charges.