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2 Austin police officers cleared of excessive force charges after using stun gun on man

Officers Robert Pfaff and Donald Petraitis found not guilty after jury deliberates for six hours.

AUSTIN — A jury decided two Austin police officers, Robert Pfaff and Donald Petraitis, are not guilty of using excessive force after they used a stun gun on a man during February 2018.

The jury came to a decision Thursday around 11:15 p.m. after almost six hours of deliberation.

Credit: Flores, Rebecca


3 Austin officers indicted in connection to use of force incidents

The officers said this man -- Quentin Perkins -- was in a crowd at a shooting scene in February. They said he walked away from them and they ordered him to the ground. The officers' body cameras showed the man was on his knees with his hands in the air when one of them tased him.

Perkins said he is not happy with the outcome from late Wednesday night.

"I don't know what to say," Perkins said. "The video clearly shows I had my hands up and did everything I was supposed to do. I complied, and at the end of the day, justice is not served is. Justice is not served."

Austin Police Association President Ken Cassady was also at the hearing Wednesday night and was critical of the fact that the situation got to this point.

"It is not fair to anyone that an indictment was handed down within 12 days of handing it to a detective," Cassady said. "We felt like there was a rush to judgement and more thorough investigation could have been done if the investigators were not pressured by the chief's office and subsequently the DA's office."

Cassady also released a separate statement following the verdict as well.

"The actions taken by officers Pfaff and Petraitis were reasonable and appropriate and this verdict supports it," Cassady said. "Officers working to keep our city safe every day are not given the benefit of pausing a video to spend hours and hours analyzing a situation. "

Travis County District Attorney Margaret Moore released a statement about the case Thursday:

"Last night a Travis County jury acquitted Officers Robert Pfaff and Donald Petraitis of all charges arising from an incident that occurred on February 16 of this year. We respect the jury’s verdict and appreciate the service they performed. It was an important trial and a significant verdict for this community.

The uncontroverted evidence introduced in this trial included video of Austin police officers deploying a Taser that caused neuromuscular incapacitation of an individual who was on his knees with his hands in the air. Both officers involved in the Tasing reported that the individual was attempting to leave the scene, which reports were not supported by the video.

Obviously, there were stark differences between the State and the defense in the way we regard the conduct of the defendants. The jury did not believe the State met its burden. However, it is the duty of the District Attorney to prosecute cases that are supported by probable cause, for which there is sufficient admissible evidence to sustain a conviction beyond a reasonable doubt, and when it is in the interest of justice. This prosecution met all of these criteria.

The District Attorney’s Office takes its responsibilities regarding oversight of police conduct very seriously. That is why the District Attorney created the Civil Rights Division that handled this prosecution. This matter was referred to the DA Civil Rights Division by the APD Special Investigations Unit in accordance with protocols established by the two agencies. Transparency in the way these matters are investigated, prosecuted, and resolved is critical to the community’s confidence that justice is fairly administered, no matter who is the accused.

The District Attorney is exploring all legal avenues to releasing the video evidence to the public."