19 Austin Officers Indicted Over Protests

City to pay $8M to man who suffered brain damage after being shot with beanbag round
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Feb 17, 2022 6:16 PM CST
19 Officers Indicted in Austin Protests
People help a demonstrator after he was shot with a rubber bullet in Austin while protesting the death of George Floyd on May 30, 2020.   (Ricardo B. Brazziell/Austin American-Statesman via AP, File)

A Texas grand jury indicted 19 Austin police officers on charges of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon for their actions during 2020 protests over racial injustice that spread nationwide following the killing of George Floyd, according to people familiar with the matter. Multiple people spoke to the AP on Thursday on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the case publicly. The indictments rank among the most involving a single police department in the US over tactics used by officers during the widespread protests—methods that led to the resignation or ouster of several police chiefs across the country.

Word of the indictments came hours after Austin city leaders approved paying $10 million to two people injured by police in the protests. Jose Garza, district attorney for Travis County, which includes Austin, spoke to journalists Thursday about the grand jury investigation but gave no specifics about it, including how many officers are facing charges, and for what crimes. "Our community is safer when our community trusts enforcement," Garza said, adding, "There cannot be trust if there is no accountability when law enforcement breaks the law."

Ken Cassidy, president of the Austin Police Association, said he didn't know yet how many officers were indicted. He called the move "devastating" for city law enforcement but also said he's confident that no officer will be convicted. The settlements approved Thursday are among the largest reached nationally with people injured by police during the protests that followed Floyd's killing. Justin Howell, who was a 20-year-old college student when Austin police shot him with a beanbag round, was awarded $8 million. His family said Howell suffered a cracked skull and brain damage. The city will pay $2 million to Anthony Evans, who was 26 when an officer shot him with a beanbag round, which resulted in extensive medical treatment in his jaw.

(Read more protests stories.)

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