Austin police officer acquitted on 2 misconduct charges; defense attorney slams 'desperate and rudderless DA'
Travis County District Attorney Jose Garza pledged to crack down on alleged police misconduct
A former Austin Police Department officer was acquitted on Monday of two charges related to the 2017 arrest of a woman, dealing a blow to Travis County District Attorney José Garza's campaign promise of prosecuting alleged misconduct by law enforcement.
Nathaniel Stallings was facing one count of abuse of official capacity and one count of official oppression in the case after originally being indicted in 2018 by Garza's predecessor.
His attorney, Terry Keel, a former Travis County Sheriff and assistant district attorney, ripped into Garza's decision to push ahead with the prosecution.
"Austin has descended into a dysfunctional prosecution-local police relationship with resultant widespread crime similar to other U. S. cities with Soros-financed, anti-police prosecutors. The last line of defense against the unfair targeting of police for criminal prosecution is the jury trial, which really makes that the last stand against tyranny," Keel told Fox News Digital.
"What happened here in this case is symptomatic of a desperate and rudderless DA’s office trying at all costs to charge and prosecute a police officer simply for doing his job."
Stallings resigned from the Austin Police Department while officials were investigating the case. Former police chief Brian Manley fired Stallings' partner, writing in a memo about the 2017 arrest that the officers failed to give the woman "a fair and reasonable opportunity to explain" herself, and that Stallings slammed "the woman's head onto the patrol vehicle."
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Keel, Stallings' defense attorney, called the lead investigator for the 2017 incident, detective Ricardo Pelayo, to testify during the trial last week.
Pelayo said on the stand that "in my training and experience, I would've done the same thing that Officer Stallings did," according to the Austin American-Statesman.
Garza's office did not respond to a request for comment on Tuesday.
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Stallings' case is the latest confrontation between Garza and the Austin Police Department.
More than two dozen police officers have been indicted during Garza's first two years in office, including 19 who are facing charges for their alleged misconduct during social justice protests in 2020.