A Texas prosecutor dropped most of the indictments against more than 20 Austin police officers over tactics used during the 2020 protests that followed George Floyd’s killing. Travis County District Attorney Jose Garza, who was elected months after the protests and said he would hold police accountable for their actions, said he would dismiss indictments against 17 officers but still move forward with prosecuting four others.
The indictments followed nationwide protests in 2020 over racial injustice and police brutality; in Austin, police officers fired beanbag rounds in the crowd, critically injuring one teenager. Austin Mayor Kirk Watson said: “This has been a difficult chapter for Austin. I look forward to turning the page. These announcements will allow police officers, whose lives were upended by the indictments, to return to their services to our community.”
In a statement, Garza did his office “would continue to hold law enforcement who break the law accountable,” and in a letter to the Justice Department, Garza asked prosecutors to review Austin police’s use of force for crowd control during the protests. The City of Austin has paid out more than $18 million to settle lawsuits brought by protesters injured during the protests, including a college student who suffered brain damage after an officer shot him with a beanbag round. Eight other lawsuits are still pending, according to the city.
Austin Police Association President Michael Bullock said prosecutors had yet to prove any case where any officer committed wrongdoing: “Our officers were faced with incredible and unprecedented challenges. In those extremely difficult times they acted within the law and upheld their oath to keep our city safe.”
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