On July 26, 2013, Larry Eugene Jackson Jr. went to Benchmark Bank on West 35th Street. The Austin Police Department’s then-Detective Charles Kleinert, who was investigating an unrelated robbery that occurred earlier in the day, began questioning Jackson. Jackson then left and Kleinert chased after him on foot, eventually commandeering a civilian vehicle (meaning he stopped a car, got in, and ordered the motorist to continue the chase). Kleinert hunted Jackson to underneath the Shoal Creek bridge at 38th Street and shot him in the back of the neck, killing him. Jackson’s autopsy report showed that he had two fractured ribs and several contusions, and that Kleinert’s gun had been pressed to his neck when the shot was fired, which provides serious doubts about Kleinert’s claim to Internal Affairs that the shot was accidental. 

Jackson was unarmed, had committed no crime, and was black. In Austin and cities across the country, not just Ferguson, there is a Mike Brown: an innocent person gunned down by the police for being in the wrong place, at the wrong time, with the wrong skin color.

APD immediately undertook a campaign to smear Jackson and defend Kleinert. Jackson was planning to pick up his children later that day, and when he didn’t show, his mother filed a missing person’s report. APD stalled for a full day before informing her about the shooting of her son. APD Assistant Chief Brian Manley argued, without evidence, that Jackson was at the bank to “commit a fraud.” Presumably, this somehow justified the following chase, assault and murder. Notably, while Jackson’s intentions were heavily scrutinized (despite his innocence), Kleinert’s were not, despite his unwarranted violence. According to the Austin Chronicle, the motorist (whose car was commandeered) was “unnerved” by Kleinert, who “did not effectively identify himself” or explain the situation, and instead shouted “Go! Go! Go!” to drive after Jackson, who “was merely walking along the sidewalk.” Despite this erratic, unwarranted behavior, APD pushed a narrative which aimed to ensure that, as Larry’s older sister and only sibling LaKiza Fowler explained, “the black man has his reputation smeared.”

The APD’s defense of Kleinert went further than simply smearing Jackson. Despite his potentially criminal actions, Kleinert was allowed to fully retire in October 2013. This caused all three official investigations into his killing of Jackson, and any potential disciplinary action, to be canceled. There were two ongoing investigations at the time, by APD and by the Citizen Review Panel, the latter of which reviews deadly use-of-force cases. The third and already concluded investigation was by Internal Affairs. Kleinert’s retirement meant that the city could not release the Internal Affairs investigation’s file and conclusions. Moreover, Kleinert will still receive his police pension, which amounts to more than $70,000 annually.

This metaphorical Austin-Ferguson connection underlies a broader point about the prevalence of violent racism in the US. This is empirically reflected in the 2012 Operation Ghetto Storm report by the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement, which found that there were 313 extrajudicial killings of black people by police, security guards, and vigilantes in 2012, averaging one every 28 hours. And because of the lack of federal and local police accountability on recording such killings, 313 is likely an underestimate.

However, the metaphor of Ferguson is not simply about the murder of Mike Brown – it is also about the new generation of young, multiracial activists, organizations and communities which began fighting back against police violence. The same is true in Austin. An Austin-based organization called the People’s Task Force (PTF), formed after George Zimmerman shot and killed Trayvon Martin in Florida in 2012, began working with the Jackson family. PTF has held rallies, marches and teach-ins to spread awareness about the police murder of Larry Jackson. According to UT alum and PTF organizer Lucian Villasenor, their petition (online and physical), which calls for a trial, no plea deal and the firing of APD chief Art Acevedo, has received more than 900 signatures. As a result of this political organizing by the Jackson family and PTF, Kleinert was indicted on charges of manslaughter in May 2014 for the killing of Jackson. According to KXAN, Kleinert’s attorney attested to this, saying he was “not surprised” by the indictment because of “all of the publicity” around the shooting.

As such, serious discussions on Ferguson, racism or police violence are incomplete without addressing the resistance, especially because these struggles are ongoing. The Jackson family, well over a year after Larry was killed, is still waiting for justice despite the indictment. Kleinert’s pre-trial hearing has been postponed four times since the original date of June 24, 2014. This is likely because of negotiations for a plea deal, which would simply give Kleinert a slap on the wrist instead of a full trial and potential conviction. This also means the Travis County District Attorney and other official institutions, not simply APD, are involved in bargaining for Kleinert’s benefit, rather than carrying out justice against racism. Admirably, LaKiza Fowler continues to fight for her brother, telling The Austin Chronicle that “Kleinert needs to be in prison” to set an example and show that “black and brown people shouldn’t have to fear for their lives every time they walk out the door… Their lives matter.” LaKiza will speak about the killing of her brother on Thursday on campus, and PTF is calling for a rally outside the Travis County Courthouse at Kleinert’s rescheduled pre-trial hearing on Friday.

Rathi is a computer science honors junior from Austin.

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — The New Mexico teenager accused of fatally shooting his parents and three younger siblings told police he had been having homicidal and suicidal thoughts.

According to a probable cause statement, a Bernalillo County sheriff’s detective questioned 15-year-old Nehemiah Griego on Saturday about the killings at the family home in a rural area southwest of Albuquerque.

The statement says Griego told the detective he first shot his mother as she was sleeping and then shot a younger brother in the same room and then two younger sisters in another.

It says he then told the detective he waited for his father to return home and then gunned him down.

Sheriff’s spokesman Deputy Aaron Williamson said Monday he couldn’t immediately comment on the document.

“L.A. Noire” features stunning visual design but repetitive and non-challenging gameplay.

Photo Credit: Rockstar Games | Daily Texan Staff



L.A. Noire
Platform: PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 (reviewed)
Genre: Adventure
Score: C-
For Fans of: Heavy Rain, Shenmue, Film noir

In an alternate reality, “L.A. Noire” is a film, but not a very good one.

It’s a film with a dedication to factual history that gets in the way of building a compelling narrative. One filled with capable actors in forgettable roles, delivering lines that are believable but rarely elicit an emotional response. It’s a film that ends with firing a flamethrower on countless thugs in a sewer — hardly the next “L.A. Confidential.”

A comparison to cinema is not only appropriate for “L.A Noire,” it’s necessary. This isn’t a game you win or lose. It’s a game in which the player tags along with detective Cole Phelps and watches events unfold with minimal influence on the game’s world. The ride to the conclusion is linear, where critical mistakes are as easily made as they are forgotten.

Team Bondi’s debut (with input from Rockstar) is a throwback to detective novels and film noir with a focus on investigating crime scenes and interrogating persons of interest. There are car chases, foot chases and shootouts, but most of your time will be spent observing crime scenes and suspects’ faces — the highlights of the game’s lengthy story.

These interrogation scenes wouldn’t be nearly as compelling as they are if it weren’t for the motion-capture technology created for the game. “L.A. Noire” brings characters to life with full facial capture of some of TV’s greatest actors from “Mad Men,” “Dexter” and more. Eyebrows furl, suspicious glances are cast and faces tense up. Reading your suspect well is key to ranking well on a case. So much so that Tony Attwood, psychiatrist and author of “The Complete Guide to Asperger’s Syndrome,” recently said the game could help those with Asperger’s syndrome improve at reading emotions, according to Joystiq, a source of news on the video game industry.

Maybe “L.A. Noire” could make for a good learning tool, but it would have to make for a good game first. Reading characters’ faces in the game isn’t the problem. The problem is that you have to simultaneously read the mind of a game that leaves you with three options: “Truth, Doubt or Lie.” There are no consistent definitions to the categories either. Sometimes choosing “Lie” and pointing at incriminating evidence isn’t enough — you have to make a wild guess as to which incriminating piece of the puzzle the game wants, even if there is more than one suitable choice.

The game tries to sell itself as a police procedural show, with each case being the equivalent of a TV episode. Some cases are self-contained while others are series linked to serial killers. Surprisingly, the game’s opening traffic cases are the most interesting. You’ll find yourself second-guessing the motives of abusive husbands and promiscuous housewives while you anticipate each new piece of evidence that may give you the answer you suspected all along.

Most of “L.A. Noire” is spent playing a game of cat-and-mouse, interrogating loosely connected suspects that point you toward another. You also spend a great deal of time literally chasing suspects in dull chases that have none of the spontaneity of “Grand Theft Auto.”

Between the cases, you get to learn about Detective Phelps’ history in World War II, banter with your one-dimensional partner (who changes as you move to new departments) and learn about larger events going on in the game’s world (via collectible newspapers).

If slimmed down to its main narrative arc and a handful of the best side-plot cases, “L.A. Noire” could have been an interesting interactive experience, even if it remained a repetitive, unchallenging one. Exploring 1940s L.A., historically accurate recreations of crime scenes and the ways police used to deal with them is thrilling in its own right, but eventually the lavish backdrop loses its novelty. Only a wish for better ways to interact with it remains.

The three men responsible for on-campus criminal investigations said they have been exceptionally busy because of the higher amount of unusual cases this year. The UT Police Department’s Criminal Investigations Unit, comprised of one sergeant and two detectives, used to conduct all aspects of an investigation, including interviewing witnesses and forming a suspect lineup. In 2003, the department switched to a new system, which gave patrol officers more responsibility for seeing a case through conviction. Now, the majority of the unit’s duties include assisting officers with investigations. “A large part of what we do is to facilitate their investigation, assist them with tools and expertise,” said Sgt. Chris Bonnet. “It’s beneficial to the department, the officers and the public because they get to deal with the same person throughout the investigation instead of being pushed from one person to the next.” The unit helps patrol officers acquire new leads when officers may not have the time or resources to pursue suspects. Detective Michael Riojas said not all officers have access to some resources, such as the Texas Department of Public Safety’s photo files, so the unit gathers the information and works in collaboration with an officer. The unit generally covers high-profile cases, including when UT mathematics sophomore Colton Tooley fired several rounds of his AK-47 on campus before taking his own life on Sept. 28, and the charges of improper photography against former UT women’s track equipment manager Rene Zamora. But property crimes are the most prevalent on campus, Riojas said. Bonnet said the hardest cases to work on are those which suspects are found years after the crime took place or are never caught because of a lack of evidence. In spring 2009, a male suspect groped several women near bus stops around campus. Police never arrested anyone in connection with the crime. “Sometimes you never will, so you’ll work a case as hard as you can and still have no known payoff,” he said. “And sometimes you know in your heart and in your brain who the suspect is, but you are not able to prove that or substantiate that enough for court.” Bonnet said he relies on the next case to move him forward. “You just have to take what you learned from the last case and apply it, and hopefully the next one will turn out better,” he said. The investigative process typically includes getting suspect or property information, gathering witnesses to conduct interviews and suspect lineups, and writing affidavits or complaints to present the case to a judge. However, the process varies depending on the information officers have at the time. “Sometimes, we work some crazy hours just because of our job duties, like going to New York for a day to do an interview and coming back that same day, or doing prisoner transports halfway across the state,” said Detective Joseph Silas. “You just never know what is going to happen.”

With the return of portable palm trees, pineapples and dynamic, slightly spiked hair — or an equally excellent lack thereof — USA’s comedic mystery series, “Psych,” is looking ahead to a second half as it returns to the network for the rest of its fifth season.

The black sheep in the ongoing trend of detective and crime-solving shows (“The Mentalist,” “CSI”), “Psych” brings something rare to the screen; a refreshing take on a well-populated genre and light-hearted, occasionally absurd humor that serves as a departure from others that have consistently taken a deeply serious approach to crime solving.

While the jokes and dialogue within each episode can be hard to follow at times, the show never fails to stand strong against less comedic competitors with complicated and diverse storylines. The show also provides a look at unique characters and their developing relationships.

James Roday returns as “psychic” detective Shawn Spencer, whose Sherlock Holmes-like powers of observation allow him to trick the Santa Barbara Police Department into believing he truly has supernatural abilities. His often-reluctant partner in crime solving, Burton “Gus” Guster, also returns thanks to Dulé Hill, as he lends a smooth baritone and tap-dancing skills to the dynamic duo that has been lighting up USA for the last five years.

The first episode of the rest of the season premiered last week; a sequel to the actual season premiere. The show remains accessible for long-time viewers and new fans alike as “Psych” opens up to a broader audience, seen recently when Roday, Hill, Franks and more brought the PSYCH College Tour to UT on Nov. 3.

The sheer number of guest stars that are featured from episode to episode help boost the show’s versatility. While a structure of gags, crime solving and twists has been consistent throughout the series, five years of colorful characters have let the show develop characters over time as well as provide a new experience to guests, according to actor Dulé Hill.

“Most of the time they get to do something they don’t usually do, and there’s a lot of laughs,” Hill said.
The next episode will feature Nora Dunn of “Entourage,” as well as the return of Jerry Shea, a UT alumnus, as Ken. Viewers can expect a throwback to “Scooby Doo”-style mysteries as Shawn and Gus witness a murder on a haunted ride that causes locals to believe that a vengeful ghost must be on the loose.

From there, viewers can expect a slew of guest actors as well as famous film-inspired episodes to spice up the new-classic combination of psychic detective Shawn and Gus.

“I want the show to have more action and to seem more like a regular detective show. We do silly cases, but also we’re doing a ‘Twin Peaks’ episode,” said creator, writer and executive producer Steve Franks. “We like to do three or four serious cases, three or four ridiculous cases and three or four movie worlds we like.”

Episodes soon to come will include not only a tribute to the ’90s television mystery, but will also feature Ralph Macchio, the original “Karate Kid.”

“Psych” brings a Californian brightness to more recent crime shows with two well-developed and humorous characters with chemistry as powerful as the Holmes-Watson combination that made “Sherlock Holmes” a literary classic. Since the USA network has made the wise decision to pick up “Psych” for another season, audiences won’t have to worry about a shortage of quick quips, popular cultural references and, of course, crime solving.