AUSTIN (KXAN) — The Office of Police Oversight, an independent non-police agency, has released 227 formal complaints related to the actions of the Austin Police Department during recent protests.
Complaints include concerns over use-of-force against protesters as well as specific complaints regarding personal physical injuries.
The City of Austin’s announcement reads:
“In previous years, OPO received an average of 50 formal complaints. Over the last two weeks, the department received hundreds of contacts related to local protests via phone, email, and the online complaint form.”
OPO Director Farah Muscadin said in the announcement that the volume of complaints are in alignment with comments and concerns aired at recent Austin City Council meetings.
The protests, which began two weekends ago, included the injuries of several Austinites who said their time at the rallies ended with injuries due to “less-lethal” ammunition deployed by Austin police.
MORE: Austin protesters explain the moment they were hit with APD bean bag rounds
These included a 20-year-old man, who is in critical condition after being shot in the head and a pregnant woman who was shot. Many Austin protesters were arrested.
“Residents are concerned about the use of force by the Austin Police Department and are calling for transparency and accountability,” Muscadin said.
A sampling of formal complaints from June 1 to June 10 include:
“APD used entirely unnecessary force, as well as “less” (eye roll) lethal weapons on a peaceful crowd of protesters i was in Sunday afternoon. Firing chemical weapons that hurt the lungs during a pandemic is absolutely disgraceful.”
“I am writing to demand an investigation be opened into firing the officers involved with shooting [redacted]. [Redacted] was receiving medical help from a professional at protest when officers shot him in the head along with the medic that was administering help. The officers involved in this incident need to be held accountable immediately and taken off the streets of Austin. This requires action now.”
“Rubber bullets should NEVER be used on citizens, and pepper spraying protesters is not appropriate. This type of response is indicative of a larger problematic culture within Austin PD.”
“Police need to be trained to withstand water bottles being thrown at them without reacting with physical violence. Yes, it’s terrible to have a water bottle thrown at you. It”s terrible to withstand someone physical attack. Please equip the APD with training in compassion, training in patience.”
“… he [officer] maced/sprayed the poster and two other women standing on either side of her, one of which was an 14-year-old girl. She describes
his smile as he watched them writhe in pain, wondering why someone who has sworn to protect people and PROTECT the right to protest peacefully by the Constitution, would do such a thing.”
Formal complaints are available to the public at atxpoliceoversight.org.