LOUISVILLE – New information from Cass County officials says Austin Baier did not brandish a weapon during a confrontation with a Cass County deputy.
Austin M. Baier, 23, was killed in a confrontation with 25-year-old Cass County Deputy Tyler Reiff on Sept. 21.
Cass County Prosecutor Nathan Cox says that while Baier did not brandish a weapon at any point, he did charge at the deputy. The deputy then gave Baier verbal commands and after those commands were not complied, the deputy discharged his weapon, firing five shots.
A hunting knife was found on Baier’s dashboard during the initial investigation, but it does not appear that the weapon was utilized during the incident.
Cox said investigators are working diligently to gather all relevant facts to the case.
Cox: “My thoughts are with everyone involved in this incident. In order to allow the grand jury process to continue, I am unable to provide any additional information at this time.
“However, the recently amended statutes involving grand jurys of this type provide that, at the conclusion of the grand jury proceedings, all exhibits, a transcript and the findings of the grand jury will be released to the public, so there will be full transparency in this process.
“I will work to ensure the process is carried out in a thorough, efficient manner.”
The Nebraska State Patrol is continuing to investigate the shooting. The patrol has described it this way:
Reiff, who had been employed by the Sheriff’s Office for four years, stopped the 1992 Buick Century that Baier was driving near First and Cherry Streets in Louisville. The car matched the description of a vehicle that had been reported being driven recklessly in the area.
After Baier stopped, he drove off a short distance. Baier stopped a second time, got out of the car and confronted the deputy. An altercation ensued before Reiff shot Baier.
Reiff and medical personnel tried to save Baier’s life, but he was pronounced dead at the scene. The deputy was not injured.
Reiff was placed on administrative leave, the State Patrol said. Under state law, a grand jury will review the death.
This week, the American Civil Liberties Union of Nebraska released a statement on the shooting and said “tough questions” needed to be asked.
The ACLU statement by Danielle Conrad, executive director for the Nebraska office, reads in part:
“We also renew our call for a public dialogue that includes improved training for law enforcement in threat assessment and de-escalation, the establishment of stronger mechanisms for transparency and accountability, such as independent civilian review boards with disciplinary authority, and increased oversight and data reporting on use of force incidents by law enforcement.”