An off-duty Austin police detective who intervened in a road rage incident near Marble Falls “saved lives” when he shot and wounded a man Thursday night, Austin interim Police Chief Brian Manley said Friday.
The officer, a 19-year-veteran of the department, was driving home in the 12200 block of RM 1431, just east of Marble Falls when he came upon a 55-year-old man pointing a handgun at a vehicle with a family of three, who Manley said included two adults and a teenager.
The sheriff’s office told KVUE-TV that the man had rammed an SUV and forced the vehicle off the road before the detective showed up.
Manley said the detective recognized that lives were on the line, and drew his firearm.
The Burnet County sheriff’s office said the detective exchanged gunfire with the man, and hit him twice as the family from the SUV escaped into a patch of brush nearby.
The wounded man was flown to Dell Seton Medical Center after the shooting. The sheriff’s office said he was unconscious when he was taken from the scene, but was listed in stable condition Friday.
Manley said his injuries are not considered life-threatening.
The police chief said the case highlights the fact that law enforcement officers, even when off-duty, are still called upon to do their jobs and protect the public.
“That’s why you always have to be aware, you have to pay attention, and you have to be prepared to take action,” Manley said. “Had he not been on that stretch of roadway at that time, there’s really no telling what would have happened.”
Austin police officers had not been involved in a shooting since May 7, when a man suspected of firing a gun on Sixth Street was shot and killed as he ran from pursuing officers. Police said at the time that the man, 24-year-old Landon Nobles, fired at them as he ran away. Members of Nobles’ family, however, have disputed the department’s account of the incident.
“I think our officers are always restrained in their use of force, and trying to use force only in those instances where they are trying to overcome resistance,” Manley said.
Austin police will conduct an administrative investigation into the shooting, but the incident will be handled by the Burnet County sheriff’s office and the Texas Department of Public Safety.
The officer, whose was not released Friday, was placed on administrative duty while an internal investigation is underway, per department policy for officer-involved shootings.