AUSTIN (KXAN) – On Thursday, the Austin Police Department said it completed its administrative investigation related to the police shooting that occurred Jan. 5, 2021, involving Officers Gabriel Gutierrez and Luis Serrato.
The department said the incident started when Gonzales allegedly cut off off-duty officer Gabriel Gutierrez and then pointed a gun at him. APD said Gutierrez then called for backup.
APD said its investigation revealed that when Gutierrez came into contact with 27-year-old Alexander Gonzales, Gutierrez acted as a private citizen who defended himself in the face of a deadly threat.
Once on-duty officers arrived on the scene, APD said Officer Luis Serrato shot Gonzales as he was outside his car reaching into the back seat and ignoring commands. APD said its investigation revealed Serrato’s actions in response to the incident were in accordance with APD policy and training.
“Chief Chacon has determined that Officer Gutierrez and Officer Serrato will not face discipline due to this incident. Both will resume their full-time roles as police officers with the Austin Police Department,” a release said.
Police found a gun in Gonzales’ car, but his family claims he was reaching for his baby, not a weapon.
“For the love of God’s sake, he got up and checked on that child,” said his mother Elizabeth at a demonstration at City Hall earlier this week. “Trying to do what I can, the best I can for my son.”
Last month, a Grand Jury moved not to indict the officers on any criminal charges.
“It is necessary first to note that whenever an incident occurs in which someone loses their life, it is a tragedy. We extend our deepest condolences to the Gonzales family on their loss,” APD said.
APD said the investigation was conducted through APD’s Internal Affairs Division, with oversight from the Office of Police Oversight. The Community Police Review Commission also provided input.
According to the Office of Police Oversight’s official review of the case, the office recommended Gutierrez be suspended indefinitely and Serrato receive “counseling and guidance.”
The Community Police Review Commission is made up of 10 volunteers appointed by the city manager. According to its official review of the case, members recommended both officers be suspended indefinitely.
The Texas Municipal Police Association, or TMPA), said it is common for the oversight group to recommend harsher punishment than law enforcement departments deliver.
“For a Grand Jury to come in and say they did nothing wrong, and they’re not going to indict, why should they be punished or even thought of being disciplined for having to defend themselves or someone else?” said Mike Gomez with TMPA.
“These types of incidents significantly impact our community and the officers who serve. Knowing this impact, APD strives to provide timely information about these critical incidents,” APD said. “Police officers have challenging jobs. To safely and effectively perform the job, the men and women of APD must have the community’s trust. APD works daily to maintain and earn that trust.”