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Officers Cleared In Fatal Shooting Of Florida Fugitive In Grapevine

Alberto Morales mugs
Wanted Florida escapee Alberto Morales, who stabbed a Miami detective multiple times when the officials stopped at a discount store in Grapevine. The Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) has placed Morales on the Texas 10 Most Wanted Fugitive list. (credit: Texas Dept. of Public Safety)

GRAPEVINE (CBSDFW.COM) -- The three officers who shot and killed a fugitive sex offender in February have been cleared of wrongdoing by a Tarrant County grand jury.

41-year old Alberto Morales, who was being transported from Miami to Nevada to serve a 30-year-to-life sentence for sexual assault, escaped from police custody after repeatedly stabbing a Florida detective in the parking lot of a Wal-Mart in Grapevine.

After a four-day manhunt, Morales was located in a densely wooded area near Grapevine Lake. A Grapevine Police officer and two officers with the US Marshals Fugitive Task Force were able to surround Morales in a small opening in the woods.

"Mr. Morales definitely proposed a pretty strong threat to the officers given the fact of how violent he was with Detective Pardenas from the Miami-Dade Police Department," said Sgt. Robert Eberling with the Grapevine Police Department. "That gave every justification to those officers to resort to deadly force in order to stop Mr. Morales' actions."

Eberling says that Morales indicated he had a weapon and charged the officers, who fired several shots at the fugitive. An autopsy released on Wednesday reveals that Morales was shot 10 times, including multiple wounds to the chest and head.

The autopsy also revealed that Morales did not have drug or alcohol in his system at the time of the shooting.

While Morales was not armed, Eberling is confident that the officers had no other choice but to discharge their weapons.

"Where he was at in the woods, it was a dark area, they couldn't see him very well," said Eberling. "The only advantage the officers had at that point was the helicopter that was above that was able to direct the officers to that location. Even the operators inside the helicopter could see that Morales was charging at the officers..."

Eberling said the officers involved have all returned to modified duty.

(©2013 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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