Austin police officers charged for actions during George Floyd protests sue city

know about Austin police officers charged for actions during George Floyd protests sue city

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Austin police officers facing accusations of using force during racial justice protests two years ago are suing the city, saying they received no training on how to use the “less than lethal” rounds employed during the demonstrations. and that city officials knew the rounds were defective.

When the protesters flooded on the streets of Austin in May 2020 after the murder of George Floyd, Austin police officers used 12-gauge shotguns to fire bean blasts (small cloth bags filled with #9 lead) at protesters. Several people were seriously injured and sued the city, resulting in settlements of more than $13 million.

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In a lawsuit filed Wednesday, five officers — Joshua Jackson, Rolan Rast, Todd Gilbertson, Derrick Lehman and Alexander Lomovstev — said they received “limited or no training” on bean bag rounds. Police officers from all units responding to the protests were asked, including patrol officers and detectives with little riot response training, the suit says.

The lawsuit also says the city knew the rounds were defective and dangerous and “did nothing to remove them from service.” A spokesman for Justin Berry, one of the officers charged and who ran for the 19th Texas House District earlier this year, has said the bean bags were “old,” “hardened,” and “had been in boxes too long.”

Austin Police Chief Joseph Chacon previously said that the bean bag rounds used in the May 2020 protests were defective. The department has said it would stop using them in crowd situations.

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Austin police previously described bean bag rounds as a “less-lethal” weapon. But in their lawsuit, the five officers said the beanbag makers “created a dangerous product that struck like a slug rather than [a nonlethal] ammunition.”

The officers are seeking more than $1 million in compensation for physical injuries, post-traumatic stress and lost wages that resulted from their participation in the protests and what they call negligent leadership.

The lawsuit also names activist groups as defendants, including Black Lives Matter and the Austin Justice Coalition, for encouraging “rioting, looting, and violence.”

The officers are among all 19 indicted by a Travis County grand jury in February and faces aggravated assault charges for his actions during the protests. The charges are a first-degree felony when committed by police and are punishable by five to 99 years in prison or a fine of up to $10,000.

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The indictments accuse the officers of using deadly weapons to injure protesters and threatening them with serious bodily harm. Almost all of the officers’ cases involve protesters who were hit by bean bag rounds, according to documents from the Travis County district attorney’s office.

Austin officials have agreed four deals this year with protesters injured by bean bag rounds. Protester Justin Howell will receive $8 million, the highest amount ever awarded in an excessive force case involving an Austin police officer, the Austin-American Statesman reported. Anthony Evans will receive $2 million; Brad Levi Ayala will get $2.95 million; Maredith Drake will receive $850,000.


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