Three Austin police officers have been indicted, two involving the same use of force case, by a Travis County grand jury, Wednesday.
Chief of Police Brian Manley said the officers have been suspended without pay and will face an internal disciplinary hearing, which will determine if there will be administrative penalties.
Donald Petraitis, an Austin police officer who has been with the department since July 2010, is accused of shocking a man with a stun gun while responding to a shooting.
The indictment refers to the incident as an “illegal arrest,” when the use of the stun gun was not reasonable.
Court documents show the incident happened on Feb. 16, 2018.
Petraitis has been indicted on charges of abuse of official capacity, official oppression and assault–bodily injury. Chief Manley says the officer’s written report is not consistent with the recorded video.
Because the videos in both cases will be involving in an upcoming criminal case, Manley says they will not be released at this time.
Another officer, Robert Pfaff, who has been with APD since May 2007, is also accused of illegally shocking Perkins with a stun gun during the same incident.
Pfaff allegedly lied under oath by claiming that Perkins refused to comply with the officer’s verbal commands to get on the ground and place his hands above his head. The indictment also alleges that the officer falsely said Perkins was about to escape, necessitating the use of a stun gun.
Pfaff has been charged with assault–bodily injury, aggravated perjury and abuse of official capacity.
In December 2015, a grand jury chose not to indict Pfaff after he shot and killed a woman, after he was called to the scene by Cassandra Bolin’s boyfriend, who said she was suicidal.
The grand jury found that Bolin came outside and pointed the gun at her head, and then at officers. That’s when Pfaff shot Bolin three times.
Ken Ervin, the attorney for Petraitis, and Doug O’Connell, the attorney for Pfaff, said their clients were part of the response to a gunshot victim near Red River Street and 12th Street.
“The District Attorney’s Office has fast-tracked the matter seeking indictments as quickly as possible,” the attorneys said. “We believe this was an unfortunate rush to judgment and may, ultimately, have a chilling and negative impact on police officers in our city and county who are required to make split-second decisions in high-stress situations to keep us safe.”
A third officer, in an unrelated incident, has been indicted on a Class A misdemeanor charge of official misconduct.
Court documents indicate Nathaniel Stallings actions caused an arrestee’s head to hit the hood of a vehicle.
Stallings and another officer were responding to a suspected prostitution incident.
According to the indictment, the case happened on Oct. 6, 2017 and says Stallings did not provide the female suspect an “opportunity to explain the circumstances” on why she might have violated a municipal ordinance.
Stallings has been with the department since August of 2011. In 2014, Stallings was suspended for placing the public in danger during a chase of a DWI suspect, according to a memo from the police chief.
The Combined Law Enforcement Associations of Texas said the officers have the right to seek their names and reputations being cleared. “They have every right to due process and CLEAT was created to make sure that the constitution works to protect them from false accusations and unfair punishment,” Charley Wilkison, the organization’s executive director, said in a statement.
Austin Police Association President Ken Casaday said in an email the APA is not privy to the contents of the video or the related reports, but said Officer Petraitis and Officer Pfaff have had “stellar careers.”
He continued, “It would surprise us if the accusations were accurate. However, if these allegations are proven to be correct, they are not consistent with the department’s values…”