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Two Austin officers cleared by grand jury in January shooting of unarmed suspect

The shooting happened during a SWAT situation at hotel in North Austin earlier this year.

AUSTIN, Texas — Two Austin Police Department officers were not indicted by a Travis County grand jury regarding a January shooting where an officer shot an unarmed suspect in a SWAT situation.

Officers Javier Rodriguez and Kamowa Reynolds were cleared, according to District Attorney Jose Garza.

“The district attorney’s office takes the work of presenting all facts and evidence to a grand jury very seriously,” Garza said in a release. “In this case, an independent group of members of the Travis County community heard the evidence and law and decided that Officer Rodriguez’s and Reynold’s conduct was not unlawful.”

Since Jan. 1, 2021, 32 cases against police officers have been presented to a grand jury, and including this one. The grand jury has returned a no true bill 23 times.

The incident happened on Jan. 4, 2021 when the APD responded to a call regarding Dylan Polinski, a wanted suspect, barricaded at the Spring Hill Suites at 12520 N. I-35. Polinski sustained non-life-threatening injures and was taken to the hospital after officials said he was shot in the leg when he charged at officers in a stairwell at the hotel.

RELATED: Austin police release video in January shooting of unarmed suspect

Polinski was reportedly at the scene that night with an unidentified woman. APD knew about the man because he had warrants for his arrest regarding felony offenses involving a firearm, according to a release from the Travis County DA.

Officers arrived at the hotel and set up a perimeter around Polinski's room. They then made multiple attempts, over the phone and verbally, to have Polinski surrender peacefully. However the attempts were unsuccessful and he refused to let the woman leave. Once the situation escalated to a barricaded suspect with a hostage, the SWAT team was called. 

RELATED: Suspect injured in police shooting after I-35 SWAT call; officers identified

SWAT officers replaced the patrol officers in the hallway, with patrol officers stationed in the opposite stairwell, before the suspect left his room with the woman. The officers in the stairwell were identified as Reynolds and Rodriguez, along with APD officer Cory Knop.

When Polinski left his room with the hostage, he began moving toward the SWAT officers in the hallway. Further commands were given for him to stop and show his hands, but he did not comply. He instead turned in the other direction without the hostage and retreated toward the stairwell door. 

At that point, SWAT officers moved in to retrieve the hostage. The suspect then opened the stairwell door and officers in the stairwell ordered him to show his hands, but he refused. Reynolds then shot his Taser at Polinski. The suspect shut the door and reopened it in an attempted to run down the stairs to where Reynolds and Rodriguez were at. 

Reynolds shot his Taser again and Rodriguez discharged his gun, hitting Polinski. He was then given first aid and taken to the hospital where he was treated for the wound, officials said. 

Both officers were placed on administrative leave as an investigation was conducted, which is standard protocol for the department. 

APD released body camera footage of the incident on March 5, showing the events that happened that night. 

Polinksi was later indicted for several offenses, including aggravated robbery, aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and aggravated kidnaping. He is currently awaiting trial for an unrelated charged of aggravated robbery in Williamson County.

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