Nineteen Austin police officers were indicted on charges of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon during 2020 protests over racial injustice, the Associated Press reports. It is among the largest number of indictments involving a single police department during the widespread protests. The indictments follow news that up to $10 million will be paid to two people severely injured by police during the protests. One is Justin Howell, who received $8 million after a beanbag round fired by police left him in critical condition with brain damage. District Attorney Jose Garza said, “There cannot be trust if there is no accountability when law enforcement breaks the law.”
The handling of the protest in Austin by police has been subject to scrutiny that put pressure on Police Chief Brian Manley to step down last year amid accusations of use of excessive force. The new chief, Joseph Chacon, said that he is disappointed by the indictments.". I am 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,” Chacon said. Ken Casaday of the Austin Police Association said the move serves to fulfill Garza's campaign promises and "ruin lives." At least 19 people were hospitalized during the protests.