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Travis County judge rules Austin officers' stun gun video sealed from the public

Judge Karen Sage signed an order for records in the cases against Officers Donald Petraitis and Robert Pfaff to be expunged.

AUSTIN — A Travis County judge has blocked prosecutors and others from releasing body camera video used as a centerpiece in a case against two Austin officers who were acquitted last month on an array of charges.

Judge Karen Sage signed an order for records in the cases against Officers Donald Petraitis and Robert Pfaff to be expunged -- a legal term meaning that their records must be wiped clean.

As part of that order, evidence in the case must be destroyed.

The officers' requested the move a day after they were found not guilty on charges that included excessive force.

Travis County District Attorney Margaret Moore said she had planned to release the footage at the end of the trial.

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

"I saw this as a case where you have public officials acting in their official capacity recorded by publicly-owned device and video shown in an open public courtroom," she said Friday.

Ken Ervin, an attorney for the officers, said the officers were exercising their legal right. State law allows a defendant to seek to have their record cleared if they are found not guilty, among other criteria.

"Just because they are police officers and body-worn footage is paid for by the public, the statue doesn't make exceptions for that situation," he said. "Everything gets erased."

The officers were accused of using a Taser on a man while he was on his knees with his hands in the air. He had also not complied with their orders to lay down and place his head on the ground.

RELATED: 3 Austin officers indicted in connection to use of force incidents

A Travis County jury acquitted the officers after an 8-day trial in December.

It is unclear whether Austin police could legally release the video at the end of a disciplinary hearing, which is likely next month, or whether Sage's order would apply.

Separately, a federal judge has signed an order that evidence may not be released in a civil case against the officers, but it unclear if the video could be made public when that case ends.

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