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Manslaughter charges still option in fatal shooting by ex-Burnet officer

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

Former Burnet Police Sgt. Russell Butler once again might be facing manslaughter charges in the 2019 shooting death of 25-year-old Brandon Michael Jacque. District Attorney Sonny McAfee told that he will meet with co-counsel and Jacque’s family to discuss bringing the case back before a grand jury sometime in the near future.

“We can’t retry on the murder charge because he was found not guilty,” McAfee said. “Manslaughter is still a viable charge.” 

On Aug. 9, after 7½ hours of deliberation, a 12-member jury found Butler not guilty of murder and aggravated assault by a public servant in a trial in the 424th District Court in Burnet with Judge Evan Stubbs presiding. An additional charge of manslaughter resulted in a deadlock. The judge instructed jurors to consider manslaughter if they could not agree on murder.

The shooting occurred March 27, 2019, when officers responded to a noise complaint in the 300 block of South McNeil Street in Burnet. As Butler approached a red car at the scene, it began to back up, and the officer reportedly yelled for the driver to stop. The car ran over Butler’s left foot, and he shot his weapon, striking and killing Jacque, who was in the driver’s seat. Three bullet holes can be seen in the windshield. 

Butler was fired in April 2019 when he was indicted on the charges.

The charge of aggravated assault by a public servant was in regard to Jacque’s passenger. According to the indictment, “the defendant did then and there intentionally or knowingly threaten Rose Anne Bales with imminent bodily injury by threatening to discharge a firearm at or in her direction.”

The jury viewed body cam footage of Butler yelling at Bales to “shut up” when she started screaming after Jacque was shot in the car seat next to her. Butler had a gun in his hand at the time but did not verbally threaten her with it, according to the footage.