A federal judge today ruled in favor Trevis Austin, the University of South Alabama police officer who used deadly force against 18-year-old USA freshman Gil Collar during a chaotic encounter nearly three years ago. Responding to a motion for summary judgment filed by Austin in a civil case dating from July 2014, U.S. District Court Judge William Steele determined Gil’s parents, Bonnie and Reed Collar, “shall have and recover nothing of the defendant.”
In 2013, Austin was also cleared of wrongdoing by a Mobile County grand jury, and the courts have also dismissed complaints against the university and USA Police Chief Zeke Aull.Collar was shot by Austin in the early morning hours of Oct. 6, 2012, after Collar had attended BayFest and consumed the “designer” drug 25I. Upon his return to campus, Collar apparently stripped naked and attacked passing cars and motorists, before appearing outside the university’s police station and banging loudly on the windows.
Austin, who was inside the station with a dispatcher, emerged with his service pistol drawn. According to subsequent testimony and silent video recorded at the scene, Austin shouted several verbal warnings to Collar, before Collar charged the officer and was shot once in the chest.
Despite his complete nudity and lack of a weapon, Austin said he felt threatened by Collar, who was a wrestler in high school and appeared capable of harming the officer. Austin was not equipped with a Taser or non-lethal device other than a baton and pepper spray, which he claimed he did not have time to draw.
The case has been publicized occasionally in an increasing public discussion over police use-of-force, and it has been noted that contrary to more high-profile, racially charged cases, Austin is black, while Collar was white. Attorneys for the Collar family or Chief Aull were not immediately available for comment. The full ruling is below.
CORRECTION: The original version of this article failed to note Austin was also equipped with pepper spray.
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