Lawsuit to be filed over officer gunfire during routine traffic stop


by SHELTON GREEN / KVUE News and photojournalist MATT OLSEN

Bio | Email | Follow: @SheltonG_KVUE

Posted on August 20, 2013 at 10:13 PM

Updated Wednesday, Aug 21 at 11:16 AM

AUSTIN – Attorneys for an Austin man fired upon by an Austin police officer in a May traffic stop are expected to file a lawsuit Wednesday morning.

Deliveryman James Barton was working the morning of May 8, 2013 when Austin police say he illegally passed through an intersection at East 12th Street and Airport Boulevard. 

Austin Police Officer Justin Boehm was reassigned to non-patrol duties after Barton says he pulled him over, drew his weapon, and fired.

Barton got out of his truck when Officer Boehm pulled him over, and that’s when the drama took another turn.

“He just jumped out of his [vehicle] and Boom!! I dropped my wallet, and he said 'Don’t move! Get back in the car! Get back in the car!' And I got back in. 'Put your hands up!' And I put my hands up, and he said 'Get out of the car and get on the ground!' And he's screaming, and I got out of the car, and I laid down on the ground,'" said Barton.

“The most disturbing thing of this whole ordeal was that the officer jumped out of his car, shot at me and then started yelling at me, and he had his gun pointed right at my head,” added Barton, who was not hit by the officer’s bullet.

At the time, Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo showed up to the scene and reviewed officer Boehm’s dash camera video. He said the officer feared for his life when he saw Barton move in his vehicle.

Jim Harrington, an attorney with the Texas Civil Rights Project who is representing Barton, told KVUE he wants to the see the Austin City Council be more accountable for Chief Acevedo’s actions.

“The city council has got to become responsible for what's going on with the police department.  It's been dodging its responsibility. It's got to hold the police chief accountable. He cannot continue to get away with making up his fabricated stories that blame the victim,” Harrington told KVUE on Tuesday.

Harrington would not go into the details of the lawsuit, expected to be announced Wednesday, nor would he expound on Barton’s condition since the ordeal in May. He says those details will be released later on Wednesday.

In the meantime an Austin police spokesperson told KVUE that officer Boehm has been reassigned to non-patrol duties and his case is still under review but nearing completion.