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Council settles officer-involved shooting case for $1.25 million

Friday, August 8, 2014 by Tyler Whitson

The Austin City Council opted Thursday to pay $1.25 million to settle a claim related to an officer-involved shooting that took place last summer. Mayor Lee Leffingwell cast the only dissenting vote in the 6-1 decision.

The claim alleged that former Austin Police Department Detective Charles Kleinert, using excessive force, shot and killed Larry Jackson Jr. on July 26, 2013.  It was brought by Alexandria Gladney on behalf of Jackson’s three minor children, according to Law Department Litigation Division Chief Meghan Riley.

According to Riley, “in exchange for this recommended payment, the city will obtain a full and final release from Ms. Gladney that releases the city, Officer Kleinert and any other employee from any claims that were or could have been asserted as part of the lawsuit.” She also noted that, as the settlement involves minors, “a guardian ad litem will need to be appointed and review any release of settlement terms in this claim.”

Following Riley’s recommendation on behalf of the Law Department that the Council approve the settlement, Mayor Pro Tem Cheryl Cole made a brief statement.

“One thing that everyone can agree upon is that we wish we could turn back the clock and not have the events unfold as they did,” Cole said. “Because we’re unable to do so, we must move forward.”

Cole’s motion to approve the settlement was seconded by Council Member Bill Spelman.

Leffingwell told the Austin Monitor in an email Thursday afternoon why he decided not to approve the settlement.

“This was a tragic incident and I express my sympathies to the children and family of Larry Jackson Jr.,” he said. “As far as the financial proposition before Council today, I felt it sent the wrong message and set a precedent I was not fully comfortable with. I have voted against these settlements in the past and often feel that these matters would be more appropriately resolved in court.”

Attorney Bobby Taylor, who represents Gladney and her three children, made a brief statement following the council’s decision. “She has authorized me to accept this and move forward and she has asked me to assure you all that the children are appreciative of everything that’s been going on,” he said. “It has been complete cooperation and she is ready to settle this and resolve it in line with the discussions with the City of Austin.”

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