Use of force being reviewed in arrest of Austin protester accused of blocking I-35 service road

Austin Protests
protester arrest garcia 2

A still from a video of a protester being arrested June 12, 2020 outside Austin Police Department headquarters (Courtesy Hiram Gilberto Garcia)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Austin police arrested a protester accused of blocking the Interstate 35 Service Road in downtown on Friday, and are conducting a review of force used in arresting him, APD confirms.

Video from witness Hiram Gilberto Garcia appears to show the arrest of Jarrid Cornell Friday night outside Austin Police Department Headquarters. KXAN has reached out to Cornell’s attorney for comment.

The video below from Garcia shows the arrest. Warning: this video contains explicit language.

According to court documents, though some of the protesters were on sidewalks, others began to stand in the middle of the road outside the department’s headquarters at 715 East Eighth Street around 11:20 p.m. Friday. The crowd standing in the middle of the road was so large, drivers were not able to go through the intersection of East Eighth and the I-35 Service Road on the southbound side.

APD issued a five-minute warning for people to clear the road. Witness video streamed on social media sites shows Cornell walking in the middle of the travel lanes in the 8th Street and IH-35 service road intersection.

Video shows when officers move toward Cornell he ran away from them. Another officer grabs Cornell as he runs past, taking Cornell to the ground. At one point three officers were working to put handcuffs on Cornell.

One officer used his knee to hold Cornell down.

“The only reason why they targeted Mr. Cornell is because he was gesturing toward the police officers,” Cornell’s attorney Marc Chavez told KXAN. Chavez said the two officers who had Cornell pinned to the ground had control over his client.

This still frame from a witness video shows Jarrid Cornell in the travel lanes of the IH-35 service road outside APD headquarters. Officers charged Cornell with obstructing a roadway. (Courtesy: Hiram Gilberto Garcia)

Chavez believes the officer’s knee restraint in the video was also a violation of APD Chief Manley’s new policy of not using those types of restraints in arresting people. Chavez said he’s not debating whether the officer’s knee was on Cornell’s back or his neck — which the video doesn’t clearly show.

“At this point, to be honest with you, I don’t want to get into a tit for tat with people that say well, it’s not exactly under the strict orders of Chief Manley—that’s not what we’re turning our attention to,” Chavez said.

“Then they chase him down. Two officers have him detained, under control…why the need for this third officer to go—whether you say that his knee is on the back of the neck or toward the upper back, why do we even have to have that debate? Why is that other officer even coming in to contact my client when the other two officers have him detained,” Chavez added.

Chavez believes the video is evidence that at least one APD officer used excessive force in the Friday night arrest.

“Any time an officer uses force, it is reviewed by their chain of command to determine whether it was lawful and within policy. The incident is currently undergoing that process,” an APD spokeswoman told KXAN. She said anyone with information that could help with the review should contact the City of Austin Office of Police Oversight.

Cornell is charged with obstruction of a highway or other passageway.

Austin police say three people in total were arrested related to protests between Friday night and Saturday morning. Charges included obstruction of a highway, interference with public duties and pedestrian in the roadway. 

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