Experts examine body camera video in APD use-of-force trial

Austin

AUSTIN (KXAN) — An expert witness testified about body camera video taken the night two Austin police officers are accused of using unnecessary force when making an arrest in February 2018. Officers Robert Pfaff and Donald Petraitis are on trial and facing multiple charges.

At the time, the two were dispatched to a shooting in Austin’s downtown district. Body camera footage worn by fellow officers show a 30-year-old witness at the scene of the shooting. Officers claim he acted erratically and raised concern among the law enforcement present. He was tased despite being on his knees with his hands up. The officers argue that he was not fully complying with their commands.

On Monday, the State of Texas called expert witness Dr. Howard Williams to the stand. He is a former APD commander and a current lecturer at Texas State University. He has either authored or co-authored five publications about the use of tasers, the injuries involved and effects it has on the body.

He studied body camera video from the scene of the arrest and is sharing his professional opinion about the use of force. His overall conclusion was that the use of a taser was unreasonable. The witness was not resisting arrest and was mostly cooperating with the commands given.

The defense is currently cross-examining Dr. Williams. Legal council for Officers Pfaff and Petraitis are going through, one by one, each of the commands they gave to Perkins. While there were multiple officers delivering orders that night, Perkins did not fully comply with many of the direct commands of the two officers.

The trial is expected to continue for the next few days. A member of the district attorney’s office for the State of Texas says closing arguments are expected to beginWednesday.

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