Texas prosecutor dismisses 17 indictments against Austin police officers over 2020 George Floyd protests
Share and Follow

The prosecutor in the Texas capital on Monday dismissed 17 indictments against Austin police officers for tactics used against demonstrators in connection to the 2020 George Floyd protests, but city officials are calling for a federal investigation into the Police Department. 

Travis County District Attorney José Garza on Monday said his office will be moving forward with the prosecution of four officers while asking the Justice Department to open an investigation into the others. 

In a joint letter to the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, Austin leaders asked Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke to have the agency conduct a “pattern-or-practice” investigation into the Austin Police Department over its crowd control actions during protests following the death of Floyd in Minnesota and Mike Ramos in Austin. 

A Travis County jury later returned indictments against more than 20 officers in connection with the protests. 

MANUEL ELLIS, A BLACK MAN WHO DIED DURING A POLICE CONFRONTATION IN WA, WAS NOT A THREAT, EYEWITNESS SAYS

Protesters face off with Austin police officers

Demonstrators face members of the Austin Police Department as they gather in downtown Austin, Texas, on June 4, 2020, to protest the death of George Floyd. A Texas prosecutor whose office oversaw indictments of more than 20 police officers in Austin over tactics used during the 2020 protests that followed Floyd’s killing said Monday that he was dropping most of the cases and would ask the Justice Department to investigate instead.  (AP Photo/Eric Gay/File)

The letter said police used “less lethal” bean bag rounds to control crowds and protect property during the demonstrations. However, the officers caused serious injury to protesters and community members, said the letter signed by Austin Mayor Kirk Wilson, DA Garza and City Manager Jesus Garza. 

The city has paid out more than $18 million to resolve civil lawsuits related to the protests, the letter said. Eight civil suits remain pending, FOX Austin reported. 

“No parent should fear that if their child chooses to voice their First Amendment right to assemble peacefully, they will walk away with serious bodily injury caused by the very person called upon to protect them,” DA Garza said. “We expect the Department of Justice will take our request seriously, and we look forward to working with Mayor Watson, Interim APD Chief Robin Henderson, and City Council to ensure full cooperation with the DOJ investigation. We will also continue to hold law enforcement who break the law accountable.”

Austin police patrolling at night

Austin, Texas, police patrol 6th Street, one of the busiest nightlife districts in the city. (Getty Images/File)

Lawyers Doug O’Connell and Ken Ervin, who represent the officers, said they weren’t surprised that many indictments were dismissed. 

“We’ve been anticipating this from the very beginning of the case. This case was political from the outset,” O’Connell said. “We said very, very early on that this might constitute a viable civil lawsuit against the city based on the degraded and out-of-date ammunition, the less lethal beanbag shotgun rounds. This was never a criminal case and never should have been indicted.”

In a statement, Austin Police Officer Justin Berry said he was grateful that he is no longer being prosecuted, but said DA Garza campaigned on prosecuting police officers from the outset. 

“José Garza has known for a long time now that none of us violated any law, yet carried on with his personal punishment,” Berry wrote. “José Garza it’s time to smarten up and stop your infatuation with persecuting innocent police officers and release your vindictive hold on the other 5 officers still suffering from your tyranny.”

Share and Follow
Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You May Also Like
News Quiz: March 1, 2024

News Quiz: March 1, 2024

Fani Willis, King Charles and more in this week’s News Quiz. (Getty…
California dental office shooting leaves 3 injured, suspect fled the scene

California dental office shooting leaves 3 injured, suspect fled the scene

A man was taken into custody Thursday in connection with a shooting…
FILE - Demonstrators clash with police as arrests are made after shutting down the San Francisco Oakland Bay Bridge in conjunction with the APEC Summit taking place Thursday, Nov. 16, 2023, in San Francisco. San Francisco

California primary: Crime, policing on ballots

(NewsNation) — California’s primary election is approaching, offering voters in Los Angeles the…
Four LA brothers awarded $7 billion after fifth brother stole assets

Four LA brothers awarded $7 billion after fifth brother stole assets

A 20-year brotherly spat in a California courtroom has ended with one…
California hot springs closed 'indefinitely' after 2nd death

California hot springs closed 'indefinitely' after 2nd death

The U.S. Forest Service has announced that Miracle Hot Springs along California’s…
Passenger dies after falling ill with jet making emergency landing

Passenger dies after falling ill with jet making emergency landing

An American Airlines passenger has died after falling ill on a flight…
Illinois worker rescues 2 women from burning car on expressway

Illinois worker rescues 2 women from burning car on expressway

Tremaine Williams, Neshmia Malik, Judy Wang Updated: Mar 1, 2024 / 03:12…
Texas hospitals welcome leap year babies

Texas hospitals welcome leap year babies

AUSTIN (KXAN) — The bundles of joy born Thursday have a little…