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Top Stories of 2012: Austin Police Officer Jaime Padron Slain

Jeff Heimsath for KUT News

In 2012, Austin police lost their first officer to gunfire in the line of duty in nearly 25 years.

Senior Police Officer Jaime Padron was shot and killed this April, after responding to a seemingly innocuous disturbance call at an area Walmart.

As KUT News reported in April:

When the officer arrived, police say he made contact with the suspect and the man immediately began to fight with the officer. Police say the suspect then pulled out a semi-automatic pistol and shot the officer at point blank range in the neck area. The officer was able to radio for help. Emergency responders tried to keep him alive, but the officer died in the store.

Later that day, a suspect was named: 24-year-old Brandon Daniel.

“This is the most trying day of my five years here,” a teary-eyed APD Chief Art Acevedo said that day. "There are a lot of tears flowing, there is a lot of hurt."

Acevedo credited the response of two Wal-Mart employees who tackled Daniel after the shooting. At a ceremony honoring the two, Archie Jordy and Lincoln Le Mere, Acevedo said “I think it helped the Padron family … You guys have a bond now that can never be broken.”

Memorial services for Padron were broadcast on local media, before his body was transported to San Angelo.

In June, Daniel was indicted for capital murder in the killing of Padron. Then in November, the District Attorney’s office announced it would seek the death penalty for Daniel when the case goes to trail.

The case may offer more insight into Daniel’s life at the time of the killing. Relatively little has emerged about Daniel’s history; the Austin American-Statesman described a history of drug, alcohol and traffic arrests prior to the shooting. Daniel’s mother told the daily that “it just spiraled down” for Daniel after moving to Austin for a good-paying programming job in 2011. “I didn't realize the depth of depression."

Police Chief Acevedo has said that day in April – which also saw another police officer fatally shoot a motorist after a traffic stop turned into a foot chase – the toughest day of his tenure. But at Padron’s memorial, he told police: “We will get through it, this is just the beginning. And I want to say thank you for letting me lead you. You matter. We will always be there for you, and we’ll get through it together.”

Wells has been a part of KUT News since 2012, when he was hired as the station's first online reporter. He's currently the social media host and producer for Texas Standard, KUT's flagship news program. In between those gigs, he served as online editor for KUT, covering news in Austin, Central Texas and beyond.