A reported 19 Austin, Texas police officers have been indicted in a protest probe and charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon over 2020 protests.
Austin Police Association President Ken Casaday confirmed to the Associated Press that 19 officers are facing charges, and multiple anonymous sources confirmed the reasoning to the AP. This reportedly signifies the most indictments a department has faced over protest tactics. Shortly before the reported indictments, $10 million was awarded to two people who were injured in the protests, one who was shot with a beanbag by an officer. This marks the largest paid to people injured by police amid George Floyd protests.
“Our community is safer when our community trusts enforcement. When it believes law enforcement follows that law and protects the people who live here,” Travis County District Attorney Jose Garza said Thursday, without sharing investigation specifics. “There cannot be trust if there is no accountability when law enforcement breaks the law.”
A Travis County District Attorney declined to comment on specifics, as the officers reportedly facing charges have not been identified. That information will not be available until officers are arrested, per Texas law, as aggravated assault with a deadly weapon could lead to a life sentence.
“DA Garza ran on a platform to indict police officers and has not missed the opportunity to ruin lives and careers simply to fulfill a campaign promise,” Casaday said.
Austin Chief of Police Joseph Chacon said he was “extremely disappointed” regarding the indictments, and that he was “not aware of any conduct, that given the circumstances that the officers were working under, would rise to the level of a criminal violation by these officers.” He added that the department no longer approves “less lethal munitions in crowd-control situations,” pointing to beanbags.
The charges follow two Dallas officers being charged earlier this year for injuring protestors. The Austin protests themselves in 2020 led to at least 19 hospitalizations, with 11 officers disciplined and seven placed on administrative duty.