AUSTIN (KXAN) - While a Travis County grand jury declined to indict Austin Police Department Officer Justin Boehm in the May 8 shooting incident involving James Barton, the department has now indefinitely suspended him.
Meanwhile, the grand jury met three times to consider the case, even hearing from seven witnesses -- including four-year APD veteran Boehm. Jurors decided not to indict him last Friday.
James Barton, 55, said Boehm pulled him over near the intersection of 12th Street and Airport Boulevard around 7:50 a.m. that day for running a stop light in his pickup. Barton has said he opened the door, stepped out of the car with his wallet in both hands and walked toward Boehm.
Boehm, however, told the grand jury he was cautious of Barton after he saw him reaching to the right in his truck. After being stopped, Barton got out of his truck and walked toward Boehm’s police car -- even though Boehm said he ordered him to stay inside the truck.
Boehm said as Barton walked toward him, he saw him reach into the waistband area of his coveralls -- using both hands. Boehm again ordered Barton to stay in his truck and when Barton pulled a black object out of his pocket, Boehm told investigators he feared for his life -- believing Barton had a weapon -- and fired one time at him.
"If anybody would have honked or spooked him I wouldn't be here, I'm really very very luck," said Barton.
The shot barely missed Barton, who then dropped the black object and returned to his truck, and the black object was later determined to be his wallet.
Barton said he had to go to the hospital after having a panic attack from a prior heart condition, and he was released him a short time later.
Meanwhile, the Citizen Review Panel in early September said it would be reviewing the case.
In-Depth: Federal lawsuit filed
The Texas Civil Rights Project filed a federal lawsuit in August against the Austin Police Department. It claims the Boehm had no reason to open fire and that Barton's constitutional rights were violated.
The suit seeks reimbursement of at least $12,700 for medical bills, the cost for lawyer fees and an unspecified amount of money for punitive damages. It names as defendants the city, unidentified police officers and Boehm.
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