Former graduate student Gene Vela stands trial after standoff with police

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Gene Vela was booked in the Travis County Jail on Nov. 11 after aiming a handgun equipped with a laser at two policemen through his apartment window in North Campus.

Photo Credit: Helen Fernandez | Daily Texan Staff

More than a year after a standoff with Austin police, Gene Vela, a former public affairs graduate student, stood trial this week for two charges of aggravated assault on a public servant.

Vela was taken into custody in November 2013 after an armed confrontation with multiple Austin police officers. His attorney is trying to convince jurors that police did not correctly identify themselves before attempting to contact Vela.

According to the police affidavit, police officers shot Vela after he aimed a handgun equipped with a laser at two policemen through his apartment window in North Campus. Police were originally called to the apartment following a 911 call from a friend of Vela’s.

Responding officers and one medic testified in court Thursday about the circumstances surrounding the shooting. According to a recorded 911 call, Vela was told the individuals outside his home were police, but Vela’s attorney, Edumund Davis, said that because Vela was being treated for post-traumatic stress disorder, he was unable to process the information correctly. 

Vela is a Marine Corps veteran who served in Iraq in 2002.

Court records show Vela has had several conflicts with Austin police, including one incident of driving while intoxicated. 

According to the Travis County Criminal Court docket, Vela faces four charges, including one charge of unlawful carrying of a weapon, two charges of aggravated assault against a public servant and one charge of terroristic threat. 

Vela’s trial continues Friday at the Travis County Courthouse.