STAFF WRITER CONNIE SWINNEY
BURNET — A Burnet County grand jury has deemed an off-duty Austin police officer’s shooting of a road rage suspect “justified” with the contention the officer saved the targeted family’s lives by his actions, officials said.
The grand jury on Feb. 6 declined to pursue charges against Officer Jason Jewett in connection with the shooting of 45-year-old David L. Meyer of Rockford, Illinois.
On Nov. 30, two cars traveling west on RR 1431 near Smithwick collided around 10 p.m. about a half-mile west of the FM 1174 intersection.
A Cottonwood Shores family of three in one of the vehicles told Burnet County Sheriff’s Office investigators a man rear-ended them, exited his vehicle, and brandished a firearm.
Jewett, who was on his way home at the time, stopped at the scene and exchanged gunfire with the armed man, who sustained at least two gunshot wounds.
Meyer was arrested in January after recovering from his injuries.
“We explained the conduct of Officer Jewett and the circumstances surrounding that incident and asked the grand jury to review the use of force required by Officer Jewett at the time,” Burnet County District Attorney Sonny McAfee said. “The grand jury found that his conduct was justified under the circumstances and lawful.”
The district attorney added he believed the officer’s actions might have saved lives.
“I think Officer Jewett’s conduct was instrumental in keeping anyone else from being hurt,” McAfee said. “His use of force was justified.”
The jury’s decision halted further proceedings against Jewett, the district attorney said.
“There was never a case filed against Officer Jewett,” he said. “When there’s a use of deadly force, we present the facts, present the law, and if the grand jury believes there was a crime that was committed, then we would proceed with presenting an indictment.”
Jewett awaits word from internal investigators for the Austin Police Department — who had placed him on leave with pay — for their final determination regarding the shooting.
APD Interim Police Chief Brian Manley has maintained that his detective arrived at the scene to a suspect firing shots, which prompted the officer’s decision to exchange gunfire.
Meanwhile, the district attorney’s office has turned their attention to other aspects of the incident.
“The investigation on the person who first fired shots will progress,” McAfee said.