Wagner to return to job soon following "no bill" ruling



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Posted on March 9, 2012 at 11:06 AM

Updated Sunday, Mar 11 at 1:58 AM

AUSTIN -- Two different investigations have cleared Austin Police Officer Nathan Wagner of criminal wrongdoing after a fatal shooting. A grand jury declined to indict Wagner in the shooting death of 20-year-old Byron Carter, Jr. Friday an internal Austin Police Department investigation also cleared Wagner.    

The 403rd Judicial District Court of Travis County said it inquired carefully into the case and has failed to find a bill of indictment against Officer Wagner, meaning they saw no evidence of criminal wrongdoing.

Wagner has been under investigation since last May when he shot and killed Carter. Wagner and his partner say Carter and a 16 year old were acting suspiciously. When the officers approached them, the 16 year old tried to run over the officers with his car.

Officer Wagner opened fire, hitting Carter four times. Carter's family claims Wagner used excessive force.

Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg held a news conference Friday morning. She said the grand jury considered a range of charges against Wagner including murder, manslaughter, criminally negligent homicide, and official oppression.

"This grand jury worked hard. They heard all the evidence. They cross examined witnesses. They took it seriously, and took a long time," said Lehmberg.

The grand jury started meeting in late January and heard from 30 witnesses.

APD Chief Art Acevedo says Officer Nathan Wagner will return to patrolling the streets of Austin soon. He has recently been working in the department's Real Time Crime Center. Acevedo said an internal review found Wagner was justified in his use of force. Acevedo said the police monitor's report would not be released.

The grand jury consisted of five African Americans, three Hispanics, three Asian Americans, and one Caucasian. The two officers involved testified as well as Chief Acevedo, the parents of Byron Carter, and the mother of the juvenile driver.