Ex-Burnet officer faces retrial in 2019 death

Russell Butler

Russell Butler, a former Burnet police officer, will be retried on a manslaughter charge in the March 2019 shooting death of 25-year-old Brandon Jacque of Burnet. The retrial comes after an 11-1 hung jury on the same charge on Aug. 9. Courtesy photo

Former Burnet Police Officer Russell Butler will be arraigned Thursday, Dec. 15, on a manslaughter charge in the 2019 shooting death of Brandon Michael Jacque. He was indicted by a grand jury for a second time on Oct. 4 after a hung jury decision on the charge in August. 

The same jury returned from deliberations in the 424th District Court in Burnet with not-guilty decisions on one charge each of felony murder and aggravated assault by a public servant.

A year before the trial, the city of Burnet and Butler settled a civil case for a total of $599,000 paid to two different plaintiffs. The settlement was signed on Sept. 14, 2021.

A payment of $199,000 was made to Kimberly Felan, administrator of Jacque’s estate. The other $400,000 went to Sydney Paige Olson, the assigned Next of Friend of Minor Child H.J. The payment was made to attorneys Erskine and Blackburn PLLC and put in a Special Needs Trust for Jacque’s minor child, simply referred to as H.J. in all legal proceedings. Olson was named administrator of the trust. 

The settlement releases the city and Butler of indemnity, meaning they denied any wrongdoing and “believe they would have prevailed at trial,” according to the Settlement, Release, and Indemnity Agreement that DailyTrib.com received in response to a public information request from the city.

Butler will be retried on a manslaughter charge after a 12-person jury returned with an 11-1 vote in the August trial. One person voted not guilty, resulting in a hung jury. District Judge Evan Stubbs presided over the trial. 

Jacque was shot on March 27, 2019, during an incident in the 300 block of South McNeil Street in Burnet. Officers arrived at the scene in response to a noise complaint at that location. A car parked at the address began backing up as officers approached. Butler commanded the driver to stop, but the car continued moving, running over the officer’s left foot, according to then-Burnet Police Chief Paul Nelson. 

Butler then shot his weapon with the bullet going through the front windshield and striking the driver. A female passenger in the car was not injured. 

Butler had been with the Burnet department for three years at the time. He was immediately placed on administrative leave and fired after he was indicted the first time on April 23, 2019. 

Jury instructions in the trial were to first consider a murder charge. If found not guilty of murder, jurors were then to consider a manslaughter charge. The jury decided against murder but hung on the 11-1 vote for manslaughter.

The grand jury indictment reads in part: “Russell Butler, hereinafter referred to as Defendant, on or about the 27th day of March, 2019, and before the presentment of this indictment, in the County of Burnet, and the State of Texas, did then and there recklessly cause the death of an individual, namely, Brandon Jacque, by shooting him with a firearm.” 

suzanne@thepicayune.com

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