Travis County District Attorney Jose Garza, who initially oversaw indictments against over 20 #Austin police officers for their tactics during the 2020 #GeorgeFloyd protests, has decided to drop most of the cases. This surprising reversal by the progressive Democrat is a significant departure from his campaign promises to hold police accountable.
Seventeen officers will have their indictments dismissed, while charges against four others will proceed. The charges were among the most extensive for a single police department following the 2020 nationwide protests against racial injustice and police brutality.
The decision to drop the cases was not explained, and the move contrasts with Garza's commitment to law enforcement accountability. Instead, he plans to ask the Justice Department to investigate Austin police's use of force during the protests. Some officers had fired beanbag rounds into the crowd, resulting in critical injuries to a teenager.
Austin Mayor Kirk Watson welcomed the decision, expressing a desire to move past this challenging chapter for the city. However, critics, including attorney Ken Ervin, who represents nine officers, described the indictments as a mix of politics and incompetence. Despite widespread claims of #police misconduct during the 2020 protests, few cities pursued charges against officers.
The city of Austin has paid over $18 million to settle lawsuits from protesters injured during the events, and eight lawsuits are still pending. The dropped indictments have intensified the divide between the police force and Garza, who was elected with backing from liberal allies like Bernie Sanders. The announcement follows a recent mistrial in a high-profile case involving an Austin police officer charged with murder in the death of Michael Ramos.
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