Both sides rest in civil trial against APD officer



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Posted on June 10, 2013 at 6:20 PM

AUSTIN -- Both sides have rested in the wrongful death civil trial against an Austin police officer.

Officer Nathan Wagner is accused of using excessive force in the death of 20-year-old Byron Carter Jr. in  2011.

First thing Monday morning, defense lawyers called Donald Graves. He testified that a man came up to his car at the traffic light at Martin Luther King Blvd. and IH-35 saying he was jumped and robbed and wanted to get in Graves' car.

Graves said the man's back was covered in blood, so he called 911 to report he might be hurt. The man was later identified as Lee Webb, the driver of the car the night Carter was killed in its passenger seat.

Detective Eric Cleveland also took the stand. He was supervising Officers Wagner and his partner Officer Jeff Rodriguez the night of the anti-theft detail. He testified that he heard the shots and ran the four and a half blocks to the scene to assist.

There he says he found another officer, whom to this day he can not identify, helping Rodriguez, so he tended to Wagner.

He told the jury that he asked Wagner a series of questions, but that the answers were not recorded as policy requires. The first time he was outdoors. The second time he was in another officer's cruiser, but the tape did not record for an unknown reason. That is being investigated by internal affairs.

Edwin Reyes, the EMS worker that transported Webb to the hospital after responding to the 911 call from police also took the stand.

He testified that when he arrived at Disch-Falk field, Webb told him he was shot by a police officer at another location.

An expert forensic analyst also took the stand. Greg Karim says Officer Wagner was standing on the driver's side of the car and shot five times in 1.4 seconds, missing his target -- the driver -- and instead hitting the passenger, Byron Carter. Karim believes Wagner's gun was approximately six to 11 inches from the car.

"When you see how they did the recreation, it shows you where the officer was standing, and we believe in that position it's very helpful to us," said Adam Loewy, the lawyer for the Carter family.

Wagner shot Carter in the stomach, leg, back of the shoulder and back of the head. Now the jury will decide whether he's justified or used too much force.

Wagner and his lawyer left court without comment.

The jury will reconvene at 9 a.m. Tuesday for closing arguments and deliberations.

The Carter family is asking for a settlement of $1.5 million.