Crime & Justice

Courts, trials and crime coverage for Austin and the Central Texas region.

UT Austin students show their support for sexual assault survivors during a demonstration in October 2018.
Salvador Castro for KUT

Attorneys representing eight sexual assault survivors are appealing a federal court's decision to dismiss a class-action lawsuit alleging Austin and Travis County officials mishandled the survivors' cases. 

The scene of a shooting in downtown Austin on July 25.
Mose Buchele / KUT

An Army sergeant driving for a ride-hailing company shot Garrett Foster "to protect his own life," the law firm representing the man said in a press release.

University of Texas law professor Jennifer Laurin
Julia Reihs / KUT

Austin police say they're still gathering witness statements and video from a deadly shooting downtown Saturday night. Garrett Foster was marching in a Black Lives Matter protest when he was shot to death

Uriel Guillen speaks during a march and rally In East Austin on Sunday for his cousin, Army Spc. Vanessa Guillen, who is believed to have been killed by a fellow Fort Hood soldier.
Michael Minasi / KUT

Lee esta historia en español. 

Hundreds of people marched in East Austin on Sunday to honor Vanessa Guillén, the 20-year-old Fort Hood soldier who is believed to have been killed by another soldier in April. Her death, and the fact that she reportedly suffered harassment during her service, has sparked protest over the treatment of women in the military.

The Hays County Historic Courthouse
Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

Lee esta historia en español. 

Hays County will implement a cite and divert program starting Sept. 1, the sheriff's office announced Wednesday.  

The decision to move forward with the program comes after more than a year of discussion.

For months, Spc. Vanessa Guillen's family held out hope that their daughter and sister, last seen at Fort Hood in Texas, was alive.

An Austin police officer walks by a line of police cars.
Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

Lee esta historia en español. 

The Austin Police Department announced Thursday it will stop ticketing and arresting people for low-level and nonviolent marijuana offenses – six months after the City Council asked the chief to adopt the policy and he refused.

Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

Lee esta historia en español. 

Deana Piñales works as a postpartum doula when she’s not teaching children at the San Marcos Unitarian Universalist Fellowship Church. She jokingly calls herself a “jane-of-all-trades,” because of her varying interests, and says she tries to stay involved in the community as much as possible through her 9-year-old son. 

A sign at a protest reads "End Police Brutality"
Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

The City of San Marcos is promising to do more to address calls for an end to police brutality and systemic racism within law enforcement.

At a special meeting Thursday, council members passed a series of resolutions to address reform on a local and national level.

A protester holds a sign that says, "Defund the Police."
Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

"Defund the police” has become a nationwide rallying cry for people protesting police violence against black people. Locally, the Austin Justice Coalition has asked the City Council to remove $100 million from police department's budget.

Black Lives Matter and other signs at a rally against police violence at Huston-Tillotson University on Sundy.
Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

The reality cable show "Live PD," which filmed the death of a black Pflugerville man in custody of Williamson County deputies, has been canceled, A&E Network announced Wednesday.


Williamson County Sheriff Robert Chody in 2015.
Miguel Gutierrez Jr. / KUT

Members of the Williamson County Commissioner's Court are calling for Sheriff Robert Chody to resign over the death of a black Pflugerville man who was tasered during a traffic stop last year.

Michael Minasi/KUT

It’s Pride Month – a time usually filled with parades and celebrations. But after recent unrest in Austin and across the country in response to the police killings of unarmed black people, the LGBTQIA+ community took to the streets for a different reason.

Austin police officers block protesters from getting onto the highway during demonstrations against police violence Sunday.
Michael Minasi / KUT

Austin police will not fire bags filled with lead pellets into crowds going forward, Austin Police Chief Brian Manley said Thursday.

Sam Biscoe served as Travis County judge for 15 years before returning to the position on an interim basis in May.
Office of County Judge Sam Biscoe

Sam Biscoe is no stranger to racism. He grew up in the shadow of segregation in Tyler, participated in the civil rights movement and started his career as a lawyer with the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, or NAACP. 

A line of Austin Police officers block the front of police headquarters Sunday as thousands protest in the street.
Michael Minasi / KUT

A 20-year-old black man is hospitalized in critical condition after police shot him with beanbag rounds outside police headquarters Sunday night, Austin Police Chief Brian Manley said Monday.

Protesters hold signs saying "Black Lives Matter" and "No justice, no peace."
Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon / KUT

Demonstrators protested at the Capitol, through the streets of downtown Austin, outside police headquarters and on I-35 over the weekend, calling for justice in the police killings of unarmed black people.

Demonstrators protesting police brutality marched onto I-35 from Austin Police headquarters on Saturday.
Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon / KUT

Hundreds of people protesting the police killings of George Floyd and Mike Ramos demonstrated outside Austin Police headquarters and on I-35 on Saturday, temporarily blocking all lanes of traffic.

Austin police
Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

Austin police officers should be given more time to engage with the community outside of responding to calls, city auditors say in a new report.

The auditors examined the effectiveness of the department’s community policing – that is, how well it builds relationships with individuals and groups in the community. 

Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

The Travis County District Attorney’s Office and Austin’s Office of Police Oversight are investigating an officer-involved shooting that happened Friday night in Southeast Austin. Local organizations have deemed the incident — which resulted in the death of a 42-year-old man — unwarranted, and members of the community protested Saturday. 

Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

The San Marcos Police Department has identified the officer who was killed and the two other officers injured while responding to a domestic disturbance call Saturday evening.

The Texas Supreme Court
Miguel Gutierrez Jr. / The Texas Tribune

The Texas Supreme Court has revived Gov. Greg Abbott’s order restricting the release of some jail inmates during the coronavirus pandemic.

The Heman Marion Sweatt Travis County Court House in downtown Austin.
Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

A Travis County judge has temporarily blocked Gov. Greg Abbott's order limiting judges' ability to grant personal bonds under the state's disaster declaration.

Inmates chat inside a cell block at the Harris County Jail.
Caleb Bryant Miller for The Texas Tribune

Gov. Greg Abbott’s order restricting the release of some Texas jail inmates during the coronavirus pandemic is being challenged in federal court. Civil rights attorneys filed a court motion Wednesday arguing the order unconstitutionally discriminates against poor defendants and also takes away judges' power to make individual release decisions.

Lisa Thurau, CEO of Strategies for Youth, leads a game called Juvenile Justice Jeopardy at the Boys and Girls Club in North Austin.
Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

At what age can you be charged with a crime in Texas? 

The question appears on a screen in front of a group of teenagers at the Boys and Girls Club in Northeast Austin on a recent Tuesday. Half the room is deliberating as a timer slowly ticks down.

Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

Operators field roughly a million calls for emergency services in Austin a year.

A new city report says those operators do a serviceable job of answering that glut of calls, but found a disconnect between those calls and the delivery of crucial services.

Martin do Nascimento / KUT

Low-level drug possession arrests are ineffective and harmful to people who need community-based help, rather than jail time, a new report concludes.

Julia Reihs / KUT

Marijuana is in a hazy spot in Texas, legally speaking.

Training at SAFE Alliance in Austin shows police detectives how nurses administer forensic evidence exams for sexual assault survivors.
Julia Reihs / KUT

A federal judge has dismissed a class-action lawsuit alleging the Austin Police Department and Travis County District Attorney’s Office mishandled eight women’s sexual assault cases.

The Travis County Courthouse
Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

People arrested for misdemeanors in Travis County will no longer have to pay cash to be released from jail, under an order released Thursday by county judges.