Travis County DA seeks to release APD tasing video used in court

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AUSTIN (KXAN) — The Travis County District Attorney’s Office wants to release video shown in court as Austin Police officers were tried on charges related to their decision to tase a man. 

On Wednesday a jury was asked to assess whether the use of that taser was justified, the jury found Officers Robert Pfaff and David Petraitis not guilty on all charges.

In the courtroom, jurors and attendees of the trial  (including KXAN) were shown several APD videos from the night of the tasing. Most notably, body camera video from one of Pfaff and Petraitis’ fellow officers showed the tasing happening. Pfaff and Petraitis were responding to a shooting on 12th Street near Waller Creek when they tased Quentin Perkins, a witness of the shooting, for not complying with commands fast enough. 

The body camera video showed the officers yelling several commands at Perkins and ultimately using the taser. In the video, Perkins is kneeling on the ground and has his hands in the air the moment he is tased. 

During the trial, videos were also shown from APD patrol cars, recording conversations the officers had after the tasing. 

In a statement sent out Thursday, the office of Travis County District Attorney Margaret Moore said they respect the jury’s verdict and appreciate their service. 

But the DA’s statement also noted, “both officers involved in the tasing reported that the individual was attempting to leave the scene, which reports were not supported by the video.”

“Obviously, there were stark differences between the State and the defense in the way we regard the
conduct of the defendants,” the statement went on to say.

The DA’s office acknowledged that the jury didn’t believe prosecutors proved the shooting was unjustified beyond a reasonable doubt. 

“However, it is the duty of the District Attorney to prosecute cases that are supported by probable cause, for which there is sufficient admissible evidence to sustain a conviction beyond a reasonable doubt, and when it is in the interest of justice,” the DA’s office continued. “This prosecution met all of these criteria.”

The statement went on to say that the DA’s office sees transparency in police oversight cases as very important.

“The District Attorney is exploring all legal avenues to releasing the video evidence to the public,” the statement concluded.

KXAN  has requested the video and is awaiting a response. 

Austin Police currently has 1500 body cameras deployed. They have an additional 400 more that should be deployed by the end of the month. Once that is complete, APD says that everyone from the rank of Lieutenant on down should have a body camera assigned to them.  

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