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Officers involved in fatal shooting justified in use of force, Travis County DA finds

According to police, Thomas Vincent Alvarez, 23, pointed a gun at the officers after he carjacked a taxi and led police on a chase on Feb. 19, 2018.

AUSTIN, Texas — The Travis County District Attorney’s Office has declared the deadly use of force by seven Austin police officers in February of last year justified, and the case will not be presented to a grand jury for possible indictment.

According to police, Thomas Vincent Alvarez, 23, pointed a gun at the officers after he carjacked a taxi and led police on a chase on Feb. 19, 2018.

After the incident, Austin Police Chief Brian Manley called the situation complex because the crime scene included three locations. It involved seven Austin police officers – the most officers involved in a single deadly critical incident ever, according to the Austin Police Department.

On Wednesday Travis County District Attorney Margaret Moore said the office had concluded its review of APD’s investigation.

“The Travis County District Attorney’s Office has determined that the credible facts establish that the officers’ use of force was justified under applicable Texas law governing when an officer may use deadly force,” said Moore. “In accordance with the Office’s policies, District Attorney Margaret Moore will not present this case to a grand jury for possible indictment.”

RELATED: Police identify suspect, officers involved in fatal shooting, alleged carjacking incident

Police said the call came in at 5:31 p.m. at the 4800 block of Nuckols Crossing for a disturbance between roommates and reports of a possible kidnapping in the 3300 block of Parker Lane. The suspect at Nuckols Crossing ended up getting in a yellow cab behind the victims, and they all showed up at that address, police said. The caller stated the suspect was possibly carrying a gun.

At 5:39 p.m., police said a high-risk felony traffic stop was initiated on the cab. During the stop, police said the driver got out, and the suspect hopped into the front seat and drove off. The officer remained on scene to question the driver and victims.

A pursuit lasting several minutes led officers to a mobile home community at the 4900 block of Edge Creek Drive, where police said they noticed the suspect was carrying a gun.

Police reported that at around 6 p.m., the suspect stopped at the gates and held the gun to his own head. The suspect did not comply with police commands to drop his weapon, officials said, and eventually began to unsuccessfully ram the gates of the community to get through.

Police said SWAT and negotiators were called to the scene around 6:04 p.m., but by 6:39 p.m., the suspect began pointing his weapon at police.

Minutes later, police fired, after which he was still actively communicating but not complying with commands. At 6:44 p.m., police said they fired again and the suspect became unresponsive.

SWAT officers then secured the vehicle and a tactical medic was called to render aid. The suspect was pronounced dead at the scene.

Seven officers fired their weapons in the incident, police said, all of whom had been placed on standard administrative leave. Their time with APD are as follows:

  • Two officers with 17 years (Rafael Rosales and Khristof Oborski)
  • Two officers with six years (Matthew Henion and DeAndre Wright)
  • One officer with five years (Nicholas Gebhart)
  • Two officers with four years (Robert Brady and Benjamin Rogers)

The case was administratively investigated by APD’s Internal Affairs Unit and monitored by the Office of the Police Monitor. A concurrent investigation was conducted by the department's Special Investigation Unit along with the Travis County District Attorney’s Office.

Moore said all officers gave individual statements, as did other witness officers, which were corroborated by physical evidence. Video footage from bodycams also corroborated the officers’ statements, Moore said.


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