Backlog in Austin Police-Shooting Cases Leaves Victims, Officers Waiting


In Austin, Tx., John Schaefer's family has questions about the 70-year-old man's death, how he died is not one of them, says the Austin American-Statesman. Austin police officer Jonathan Whitted shot him twice in the chest on March 1, after officials say Schaefer pointed his gun at Whitted. Schaefer's son wants to see the autopsy report, hoping it will provide more information about what happened. Invoking a state law that allows agencies to withhold information that could interfere with the investigation or prosecution of a crime, the city regularly declines to release autopsy reports and other public records about police shootings until after a grand jury decides whether to indict the officer involved.

Of nine pending officer-involved shooting cases, one from Septembeer 2012 has yet to be heard by a grand jury. The backlog means that both families like the Schaefers and the officers involved in shootings are left in limbo, waiting for answers, and resolution, for months. The district attorney's office is now dedicating another attorney and another investigator to handle the cases in hopes of addressing the shootings that have stacked up. “I want to know what happened,” Schaefer's son said. The full newspaper story is available only to paid subscribers.

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