FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
AUSTIN, TX (January 7, 2015) The People’s Task Force, a grassroots police accountability group in Austin, calls on Judge Lee Yeakel to deny Charles Kleinert’s Petition for a federal trial. Not only does this amount to forum shopping, it would constitute an enormous waste of resources that have already gone into making sure he is prosecuted in Travis County.
Said LaKiza Fowler, sister of Larry Jackson, Jr, “All my family wants is justice. [Detective] Kleinert is trying to do everything he can to evade responsibility for killing my brother. Justice for my family is to see Kleinert behind bars. ”
Said PTF organizer Snehal Shingavi, “It is clear that the legal rationale for moving the trial is merely a smokescreen for the reality that Kleinert knows that he will be convicted in a jury pool of Travis County residents. He should be held accountable to Travis County residents, since he has availed himself of a Travis County based salary and pension.”
Further, the People’s Task Force recognizes that Kleinert’s case is a watershed moment in the wake of the events in Ferguson, MO and New York, NY. Should Kleinert actually face manslaughter charges, it would be one of the first cases nationally of a police officer facing a trial for killing an unarmed black man since the beginning of the Ferguson protests.
The PTF also worries that the decision to move the case to federal court comes after lengthy grand jury deliberations and pre-trial motions that have already meant that the case has been delayed for over a year. In fact, the decision to move to federal court seems more likely to be born out of a worry that the Travis County DA’s office is actually going to prosecute Kleinert, and the hope that a jury pool beyond Travis County will be more sympathetic to Kleinert.
As a result, the People’s Task Force calls on Judge Lee Yaekel to deny the petition for a change of venue. The People’s Task Force continues to stand in solidarity with the Jackson family and will continue to fight to make sure that Detective Kleinert is actually prosecuted.