AUSTIN (KXAN) – The family and girlfriend of Alex Gonzales Jr., a man who died after being shot at by Austin police officers in January 2021, have filed civil lawsuits in Austin against APD Officers Luis Serrato and Gabriel Gutierrez, as well as the City of Austin.
The Gonzales family attorney said the criminal justice system failed to hold Serrato and Gutierrez accountable for the death of Alex Gonzales Jr.
A City of Austin spokesperson released a statement Thursday in response to the lawsuit.
“The litigation related to the January 2021 incident is ongoing since it was first filed in July of 2021. Plaintiff’s counsel recently added the two officers as parties to the ongoing civil litigation following the District Attorney’s decision not to proceed with criminal charges and just before the statute of limitations was set to expire,” the city’s spokesperson said.
On Dec. 27, the Travis County District Attorney’s Office announced a grand jury decided not to charge the officers in the shooting.
“It was a cowardly action and it’s now up to his parents to demand justice for the reckless and deliberate killing of their son. Alex and Liz Gonzales’s lawsuit intends to hold them and the City of Austin responsible for this indiscriminate police killing,” Scott M. Hendler, the family’s attorney, said.
What happened in southeast Austin?
In 2021, APD said officers shot at Gonzales following an initial shooting on the road involving an off-duty police officer who was in his personal car. A woman was also shot and police found a baby uninjured in the back seat.
At the time, former APD Chief Brian Manley said the off-duty officer told them Gonzales cut him off in traffic and then pointed a gun at him.
“The officer fired at the suspect at this point. Multiple rounds were fired by the officer,” Manley said. The officer called 911 and continued to follow the car south down Wickersham Lane near Oltorf Street in southeast Austin.
According to the parents’ lawsuit, Officer Gutierrez was in his personal vehicle when he cut off a vehicle driven by Alex Gonzales Jr., with Jessica Arellano, Gonzales’ girlfriend, and their 2-month-old child inside. The lawsuit said when Gonzalez Jr. pulled up beside Gutierrez’s vehicle, Gutierrez fired his pistol several times into the passenger window, striking Gonzalez Jr. and Arellano three times.
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When the cars stopped, APD said the officers told Gonzales in English and Spanish to get away from his car and to put his hands in the air, but he did not listen. Gonzales walked around the car to the rear passenger side door and reached inside.
“As he reaches into the vehicle the on-duty Austin police officer fired shots at him, striking him at that moment and then he goes down,” the former APD chief said.
“When other officers arrived at the scene, they refused to administer any aid to Gonzalez Jr., Arellano and their infant child,” Arellano’s lawsuit said.