Police Chief Unhappy that Officers are Facing Consequences.
(TX) – District Attorney José Garza ran on a platform of police accountability which automatically put him at odds with the Austin Police Department (APD). Things have gotten much worse. The district attorney began a criminal investigation into the excessive force used by Austin police at the George Floyd protests. That investigation was taken before a grand jury. The result is 19 police officers are facing indictment for excessive force.
The current police chief, Joseph Chacon, who was an acting police chief at the time, complained about the indictments. Chief Chacon called a press conference at which he said, “I respect the grand jury process.” He then goes on to complain about the district attorney, saying he is disappointed to hear about the indictments. How does this make sense? If he respects the grand jury process then he should respect the outcome they determine.
It sounds very much like he is really saying, ‘sure, looking into us, just makes sure your determination is that our actions were correct.’
Bean Bag Rounds Used at George Floyd Protests
When Austin had their George Floyd protests, the citizens were met with chemical spray and less than lethal rounds. The less than lethal rounds are known as bean bag shot. It’s a small sack, that looks like a shotgun shell, filled with BBs. The BBs are supposed to spread out within the sac to distribute and lessen the impact.
The idea is to aim low. You don’t want to hit anybody in the head, you don’t want to hit them in the chest, if you can avoid it.
In the video below, you will see a woman with a bruise on her cheek from a bean bag shot. We know of at least two individuals who took shots to their head and another whose jaw was shattered. Watch the video below and pay attention to where the officers are aiming their weapons. And I do mean aiming. None of them are aiming low. The injuries sustained by the individuals were not accidents. They appear to have occurred due to a violation of policy and training.
Police Unions Throw a Fit
Unsurprisingly, several police union leaders went before the media to claim it was all political. They said the district attorney should not have released the information about the indictments before the elections. I’m not sure how it matters. District Attorney Garza is not on the ballot. He is only a little over a year into his four year term. Announcing the indictments is reassuring the public that he is doing what he was elected to do.
Defense Attorneys Claim Faulty Equipment
The defense attorneys for the police officers are already claiming that the injuries were not the officers’ fault. According to the defense attorneys, the bean bag shots were faulty. They say it did not spread out and instead stayed in a clump, making it act more like a shotgun blast. It’s possible this is true. Even if it is, the injuries would still have been less serious if the police officers had been aiming properly. Had the shots been directed at the lower part of people’s bodies, there would not be traumatic brain injuries and shattered jaws.
Civil Lawsuits Raking in Millions
The City of Austin has already approved 10 million dollars to two individuals who were seriously injured by APD police officers. Anthony Evans will receive 2 million dollars. His jaw was shattered requiring two surgeries, wiring in place, and a permanent titanium plate. Justin Howell will receive 8 million dollars after he “suffered a fractured skull.”
We don’t know what is going to awarded to 16-year old Brad Levi Ayala. According to Texas Monthly about the video that captured the shooting of Ayala (and the sleuth who tracked down which officer shot him),
An officer raises and fires a rifle moments before Ayala crumples to the ground, barely conscious and bleeding, a round lodged in his forehead. The teenager had been watching protesters from a hill overlooking the I-35 access road, about thirty yards from where the police were trying to clear the interstate.
Ayala suffered a traumatic brain injury. It’s unknown why an officer would have shot in the direction of someone who was sitting on a hill, just watching what was happening. And it’s disgusting that Police Chief Chacon would say he knows of no criminal violations committed by his officers. I expect the payout to Ayala will be the largest of them all, and rightly so.