AUSTIN (KXAN) — A former Texas Department of Public Safety trooper and current Federal Agent, who two years ago was cleared of wrongdoing by several agencies after he shot a suspect after the suspect rammed his car during a pursuit, has been indicted by a grand jury for the incident, attorneys say.
Travis County District Attorney Margaret Moore brought the case against Austin Johnston in front of a grand jury over his use of force in the incident. KXAN reached out to her office for comment, but the office said it couldn’t comment.
According to an arrest affidavit regarding the incident Sept. 8. 2018, Johnston tried to pull over a stolen car driven by Dustin Dougherty on North Lamar Boulevard. After Dougherty sped away, Johnston pursued, the affidavit says. Shortly after fleeing, Dougherty stopped his car in the middle of the street, put it in reverse and rammed Johnston’s patrol vehicle, the affidavit says.
After his vehicle was hit, Johnston fired his gun at Dougherty as Dougherty ran away. Johnston hit Dougherty in the back with a shot, and Dougherty was found hiding later. Dougherty was treated at a hospital and then released into custody, the affidavit says.
Dougherty pleaded guilty to aggravated assault against a public servant with a deadly weapon, a first-degree felony, and was sentenced to six years in prison, court records show. Moore prosecuted the case.
“Trooper Johnston’s actions were investigated by DPS and the Texas Rangers, found to be lawful and consistent with policy, and he was returned to full duty within 3 days,” Johnston’s attorneys, Doug O’Connell and Ken Ervin, said in a press release Friday.
“Johnston has since become an Federal Agent. The FBI was made aware of the incident with Dougherty, conducted their own investigation prior to Johnston’s appointment as a Federal Agent, and agreed with the Texas Rangers that Johnston’s actions were appropriate. The FBI had no issue with Johnston’s actions despite the fact that a grand jury review of the shooting was still possible,” the attorneys said.
Johnston’s attorneys said he wasn’t invited to testify in front of the grand jury.