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Ex-Burnet officer found not guilty of murder; jury deadlocks on manslaughter

Russell Butler

Former Burnet Police Officer Russell Butler was found not guilty of murder by a jury in the 424th District Court in Burnet on Aug. 9. Courtesy photo

CORRECTION: The original version of this story left out the fact that the jury also deadlocked on a manslaughter charge against former Burnet Police Officer Russell Butler. regrets the error.

A jury on Aug. 9 found former Burnet Police Officer Russell Butler not guilty on charges of felony murder and aggravated assault by a public servant in a trial in the 424th District Court in Burnet. An additional charge of manslaughter resulted in an 11-1 deadlock. That charge can be retried if the district attorney decides to do so. Butler was charged and tried in the 2019 death of 25-year-old Brandon Michael Jacque. District Judge Evan Stubbs presided.

The incident occurred when officers responded to a noise complaint in the 300 block of South NcNeil Street in Burnet on March 27, 2019. As officers approached a car at the scene, it began backing up. According to then-Burnet Police Chief Paul Nelson, Butler verbally commanded the driver stop, but the the car kept coming toward him, running over the officer’s left foot. 

Butler then shot his weapon, striking the driver. A female passenger in the car was not injured. 

“At that time, once that was done, (the officer) called for EMS and started medical procedures on that suspect to help save his life,” Nelson said during a media conference later that day.

Butler, who had been with the department for three years, was placed on administrative leave. He was fired in April 2019 after he was indicted in Jacque’s death. According to the police chief, Butler was taken to a hospital and had his foot X-rayed. He suffered no injuries. 

The Texas Rangers led the investigation, which resulted in multiple grand jury indictments that were handed down on April 23, 2019. Butler pleaded not guilty to all. Jury instructions were to first consider a murder charge, and, if found not guilty on that, to then decide on manslaughter. The other charge was for aggravated assault by a police officer.

2 thoughts on “Ex-Burnet officer found not guilty of murder; jury deadlocks on manslaughter

  1. We all knew that was gonna be the verdict regardless. We prayers for the family. Maybe now the ex officer can carry on with his life. I don’t know if I’d wanna work for BPD any more though.

  2. Now sue the dept for your job back and back due wages. Best way to thank them for their support. Then flip them the bird and move on.

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