Police Chief Art Acevedo said Officer Nathan Wagner followed department policies when he fired at a moving car and killed 20-year-old Byron Carter Jr. two years ago.
In sometimes tense testimony Wednesday in the civil lawsuit filed by Carter's family, Acevedo said Wagner's actions on the night of May 30, 2011, indicated that he kept his wits when he opened fire because he thought the car might run over his partner. Once the car was past the officers, the chief said, Wagner stopped shooting.
"That was the most controlled shooting of a vehicle I've ever seen," Acevedo testified.
The chief took the stand after the defense began presenting its side of the case in the trial that started Monday. Much of his testimony centered on assertions from Carter's family that no one from the Police Department ever spoke to them about the shooting.
Acevedo pointed out that once the lawsuit was filed, city policy prohibited him from speaking with the family. But on the stand, he told Carter's parents that he wished he could have talked with them.
"My heart goes out to that mother and that farther right there," he said, gesturing toward the plaintiff's table in the federal courtroom.
Carter family attorney Adam Loewy asked Acevedo why he did not at least pass on that sentiment through him during times that he and the chief saw each other at social functions.
"I didn't know if I would trust you with that communication," Acevedo replied tersely.
Earlier, the teenager who was with Carter the night of the shooting testified that the pair were one their way back from an Austin nightclub when they got in their parked car.
In-Depth: Timeline of events that night
The incident that led to the shooting began when Wagner and his partner, Officer Jeffrey Rodriguez, were on bike patrol in Downtown Austin investigating car burglaries on a "spotter operation."
Wagner said Tuesday that he and his partner went up Eighth Street looking to see if cars were burglarized -- not expecting to come across the men.
"We were there because that area is a high-crime area," said Wagner.
He said he was surprised to see them, and Carter and his friend, Lee Webb, were reportedly looking into cars as though they were going to steal them.
Wagner said Carter and Webb were walking together and looking around in all directions pretty quickly, making the officers suspicious.
Wagner said the then-16-year-old driver, Webb, eventually tried to run over his partner, so he opened fire -- killing Carter.
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