‘Street medic’ sues City of Austin, accuses police of excessive force during protest

Austin Protests

AUSTIN (KXAN) — A woman is suing the City of Austin, claiming Austin police officers used excessive force at protests following the death of George Floyd.

The lawsuit said 43-year-old Maredith Drake was at a May 31 protest serving as a “street medic” outside the Austin Police Department headquarters. She was wearing a shirt with red crosses on it to identify herself as a medic.

Drake was trying to carry an injured protester, later identified as 20-year-old Justin Howell, toward the headquarters so the man could get medical attention, when an officer allegedly shot a bean-bag round at her hands, the lawsuit said.

The lawsuit claims Drake did not pose a danger to anyone.

APD Chief Brian Manley said after the incident, the department launched a “level one” investigation into what happened. Manley said he saw pictures of “a person who is providing medical attention to all of those engaged in these activities,” referring to Drake.

“It appears as though she was struck in the hand with what she is describing as an impact munition,” Manley said.

A level-one investigation is the highest level of investigation into the use of force that results in serious injury. The investigation is ongoing.

Drake’s attorney, Jeff Edwards, said his client “went downtown that day to help people exercise their First Amendment rights.”

“That the police would use brutal force on peaceful demonstrators like Maredith during a protest, against police brutality no less, is beyond the pale,” Edwards said.

Video released by Edwards shows the incident in question.

The City of Austin provided a statement to KXAN Thursday:

“The city is currently reviewing the claims related to the May 2020 protests. Because there were many individuals involved in the events, it takes time to sort through everything. The Police Department, along with the Office of Police Oversight, and the Law Department will review each claim, and the city will work directly with the individual protesters and their lawyers.”

Other protest lawsuits

Drake isn’t the only one suing the City of Austin related to police officers’ use of force during the protests.

Jason Gallagher claims he was pepper sprayed in the face and pushed with a police baton while protesting near APD’s headquarters on May 30.

During the demonstration, many protesters made their way onto Interstate 35, disrupting traffic in both directions.

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