AUSTIN, TX – Travis County District Attorney José Garza announced on Tuesday that charges against Officer Gregory Gentry for a March 2019 incident were dropped.
The move to dismiss the excessive use of force charges, Garza said, was “in the best interest of justice.”
According to a press release from Garza’s office, a previous Assistant District Attorney obtained an opinion from an expert that would prove helpful to the officer’s defense. Apparently, that evidence wasn’t included or disclosed when the ADA presented the case in January’s to the grand jury.
Garza said that the ADA is no longer with the office and no one was ever made aware of the expert opinion. Once a new ADA was assigned in May, they found the evidence, which was “immediately disclosed to the defense.”
“Upon review, we have decided that a dismissal of the indictment is the appropriate action to take in this case and best serves the interest of justice,” said District Attorney José Garza. “I offer my sincere apologies to Officer Gentry who undoubtedly suffered as a result of this process.”
Officer Gentry was facing a felony assault charge stemming from a March 2019 incident where Officers Gentry and Chance Bretches attempted to stop suspects in what they thought at the time was a narcotics deal. During the attempt to arrest one of the suspects, a fight broke out, injuring suspects as well as the officers.
At the time of initial review by multiple review boards, the APD said the officers’ actions were “deemed compliant with policy and training.”
The Office of Police Oversight said APD opened an internal complaint into what happened in March 2020, but “both internal and external complaints were closed without any formal investigation.”
The department said that it had worked with the previous district Attorney and together they concluded “based on the Department’s findings that the officers’ conduct was within policy, the case was not forwarded to the DA’s Civil Rights Division.”
The Office of Police Oversight, however, said it was concerned over “the level of force used.” The suspect also filed a complaint to the oversight board, and a notice was sent to APD in October.
Officer Gentry’s attorneys released a statement following the dismissal of the case, which read, in part, “The only thing shocking to us about today’s announcement from DA Garza is that he is voluntarily dismissing Officer Gentry’s case…We do not know what evidence was presented to, or withheld from, the grand jury in Officer Gentry’s case because it was not recorded. Once again we are calling on Mr. Garza to live up to his campaign promise of transparency and to record and transcribe all grand jury testimony in law enforcement cases so that this sort of abuse can be identified.”