Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo said Monday that criminal and administrative investigations into last month’s officer-involved shooting should be completed by mid-September.
He said the inquiries are on a “fast track,” and that investigators are expected to be finished by 45 calendar days after July 26, the date Detective Charles Kleinert fatally shot 32-year-old Larry Eugene Jackson Jr..
“I want some answers, and I want them sooner rather than later,” Acevedo said, speaking publicly about the shooting for the first time since returning from California, where his mother recently died.
He also said he was disheartened by the release of confidential information about the shooting that the American-Statesman learned and reported two weeks ago, but he said the likelihood of identifying the source of the information is slim.
Asked by a reporter if he shared the information, Acevedo said, “No, that was not me.”
Calling the police union’s call last week for an independent inquiry into the leak a “dog and pony show,” Acevedo said Sgt. Wayne Vincent, president of the Austin Police Association, was casting aspersions about the city and the Police Department.
“We’re not going to let this distract us from what’s most important,” Acevedo said, referring to figuring out what happened between Kleinert and Jackson last month.
Several sources have told the American-Statesman that during an interview with internal affairs investigators, Kleinert said he had drawn his weapon to try to subdue Jackson and lost his balance and fell during a struggle. A single round accidentally went off, and Jackson was shot in the back of the neck, according to the sources, who had been informed of what Kleinert said to investigators but asked to remain anonymous because they weren’t authorized to speak.
Kleinert was required, as a condition of his employment with the Police Department, to provide a statement to internal affairs investigators, but the content of such interviews is confidential under state law. State and federal laws prohibit any possible incriminating comments in the statement from being used against him in a criminal investigation.
After the union’s press conference Wednesday, City Manager Marc Ott announced that an investigation into the leak was already in the works, and Acevedo said his department is cooperating with the city’s effort.
Assistant Chief Brian Manley has said Kleinert was investigating a morning robbery at the Benchmark Bank on West 35th Street near Shoal Creek when Jackson tried to open the bank’s locked doors that afternoon. Jackson, who had a previous forgery charge in Williamson County from 2003 but wasn’t a suspect in the bank robbery, walked away and then returned a minute later and tried to open the door again, police have said.
A bank manager went outside to speak to Jackson, and, when she returned, she told Kleinert that he had attempted to use the name of a bank customer who employees knew wasn’t him, police said.
Police have said that Jackson fled after talking to Kleinert for a few minutes and that the detective got a ride from a passer-by in his effort to find Jackson. The two men then got into a struggle under a nearby bridge, where Jackson was shot.
The chief said that he hasn’t spoken to Jackson’s family directly but that he has expressed his condolences through two assistant chiefs, Jackson’s father’s supervisor and a minister.
“It’s tragic for that family,” he said. “That’s somebody’s son. My heart does go out to them.”
Acevedo said Kleinert is “heartbroken” about what happened, and that in his 19 years with the department, Kleinert has been a quality officer.
The veteran detective has been on administrative leave since the shooting.