11 APD officers disciplined following police brutality complaints from May protests

Austin

AUSTIN (KXAN) — The City of Austin says 11 Austin police officers have been disciplined for their actions during downtown protests on May 30 and 31.

According to a city spokesperson, Austin Police Chief Brian Manley has completed his review of all known complaints and incident from protests on those dates. In addition to the 11 officers disciplined, seven more are currently on administrative duty as the District Attorney’s office reviews their cases.

Multiple lawsuits were filed after protesters were injured that weekend. Police used pepper spray and less-than-lethal bean bag and foam bullets to disperse crowds.

After that weekend, Manley told reporters the force officers used was within department policy. However, a few days later, he banned any further use of bean bag rounds in crowd situations.

The city says the Office of Police Oversight will be reaching out to anyone who contacted the OPO regarding the protests.

A memo detailing the disciplinary action taken is expected to be released soon. KXAN reached out to the Austin Police Association for comment but has not yet received a response.

Lawsuits filed following May protests

Several people injured in the May 30-31 protests have filed suit against the City of Austin. Demonstrators were protesting the police killings of George Floyd and Austinite Mike Ramos that weekend.

  • On Aug. 28, Jason Gallagher sued the city, claiming two officers pepper sprayed him and another pushed him with a baton as he was protesting near them along the embankment of I-35 on May 30. His lawsuit says he suffered a knee injury after he fell from being hit by the officer’s baton.
  • On Sept. 16, 43-year-old Maredith Drake filed suit against the city. Drake claims she was shot with a bean bag full of pellets while volunteering as a “street medic” on May 31. According to her lawsuit, Drake was helping guide others carrying injured protester Justin Howell to an ambulance. The lawsuit says she raised her hands to show police she wasn’t armed, and that an unidentified officer then shot her hands.
  • On Oct. 20, Anthony Evans filed a lawsuit against the city and an unidentified officer, saying he’d been shot in the head with a beanbag round while trying to leave the protest he attended on May 31. The lawsuit says Evans had to undergo surgery after his jaw was broken from the shot.
  • On Nov. 9, Sam Kirsch filed a lawsuit against the city, detailing an injury to his skull after being shot by a bean bag round. According to the suit, Kirsch had moved off of I-35 on May 31, after officers were clearing out crowds and was in a grass median when he was shot in the face with the less lethal round. According to his lawsuit, Kirsch suffered broken bones and has undergone three surgeries. His attorneys say his eyesight may never fully heal.
  • On Nov. 10, another civilian “street medic”, Steven Arawn, filed suit, saying he was shot in the hand and wrist with a beanbag round as he was on the hillside east of I-35 kneeling next to a woman who’d been injured on May 30. According to his lawsuit, Arawn still hadn’t regained full function in his hand months later.
  • On Nov. 16, Jose Herrera sued the city and an unnamed officer, after he was shot in the thigh with a projectile on May 30. The lawsuit claims Herrera was standing across the I-35 frontage road from APD Headquarters when his leg was hit. According to his suit, Herrera has had ongoing medical treatment for burning pain, numbness and tingling in his right leg. Herrera is also an Iraq War veteran who suffers from PTSD and has suffered mental anguish following being shot at the protest because of his ongoing PTSD, according to the lawsuit.
  • On Nov. 25, Arianna Chavez filed suit, claiming an officer shot her in the back of her head with a projectile while she was protesting on May 31. According to the lawsuit, Chavez fell to the ground when she was hit and suffered a concussion, a serious head wound and head trauma.

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