Criminal JusticeLocal NewsAustin Suspect in Officer-Involved Shooting Was Out on Personal Bond With 5 Arrest Warrants

District Attorney José Garza has adjusted county policy to recommend lighter bail and sentencing guidelines since taking office last year.
May 24, 2022
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Brandon Louis Marshall, who was shot by law enforcement last week after firing rounds at a marked vehicle, had been out of jail on bond for previous charges including aggravated assault and unlawful possession of a firearm.

On Wednesday, May 18, Austin Police Chief Joseph Chacon briefed the public on a shooting that occurred in Williamson County but involved several Austin police officers.

The events began as a Department of Public Safety (DPS)-initiated warrant service for Marshall’s arrest on multiple felony charges. Chacon said that DPS asked the Austin Police Department (APD) to assist with surveillance of the suspect.

The surveillance began mid-afternoon at Marshall’s apartment complex. When the suspect left the complex in his vehicle, law enforcement used “tire deflation devices,” Chacon said, “in an attempt to disable the vehicle.” However, Marshall continued to drive off with the flat tires until one of his wheels fell off its axle, disabling the vehicle.

At that point, Marshall pulled into a gas station parking lot, and surveillance by law enforcement continued. Chacon then specified that there was no pursuit by officers, who instead stayed some distance away only maintaining surveillance.

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Around 6:30 p.m., DPS arrived at the scene and approached the vehicle. “As the trooper near [Marshall’s] vehicle exited his own vehicle, the suspect began firing from the inside of his [vehicle] at the trooper,” Chacon said. APD officers in a surveillance car then rushed toward Marshall’s car and returned fire along with the DPS officer.

Marshall was struck, injured, and then detained after which he was transported to a hospital. He has since been transferred to the Williamson County jail, was charged with five counts of aggravated assault against a public servant, and is being held on a $500,000 bond.

DPS is conducting an investigation into the shooting assisted by the Round Rock Police Department.

Marshall has a long rap sheet, dating as far back to a criminal trespassing charge before the turn of the century and including burglary, criminal mischief, felony drug possession, and forgery of a financial instrument.

In April 2021, he was released on a personal bond adjusted down from a previous $40,000 bond by the 460th District Court on two charges: unlawful possession of a firearm as a felon and aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, a knife.

The exact parameters of the bond are not available from the county’s online record database, but personal bonds are often awarded to defendants deemed unable to afford bail by the court. Traditionally, they have been awarded to non-violent offenders who are likely to show up to their hearing without any collateral held by the court.

On May 12 this year, an arrest warrant for Marshall was issued for evading arrest that occurred on March 5 — at which point he also had four other outstanding warrants from previous offenses.

Upon taking office, Travis County District Attorney José Garza announced relaxed bail and sentencing guidelines for most defendants, including a presumption of release with least restrictive conditions necessary for higher-level felonies — something he campaigned on along with heightened prosecutions of law enforcement.

Garza and the City of Austin have prioritized personal bonds for defendants that are deemed indigent, a descriptor given to poor individuals — a category Marshall was awarded per his court records. These actions are part of a growing trend, especially in America’s largest cities, to lighten bail policy some activists describe as overbearing. But as more of those policies are adopted, it’s also invited a recoil, especially concerning violent and repeat offenders being awarded personal bonds.

Last year, the Texas legislature passed Senate Bill 6 during the second special session that restricts the circumstances in which magistrates may award personal bonds to defendants.

But the conflict between local policies and state directives has not halted and is likely to continue when the legislature reconvenes next year.

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Brad Johnson

Brad Johnson is an Ohio native who graduated from the University of Cincinnati in 2017. He is an avid sports fan who most enjoys watching his favorite teams continue their title drought throughout his cognizant lifetime. In his free time, you may find Brad quoting Monty Python productions and trying to calculate the airspeed velocity of an unladen swallow.