AUSTIN (KXAN) — According to jail records, 18 of the 19 Austin Police Department officers indicted related to use-of-force allegations during the May 2020 protests have turned themselves in.
The attorneys for eight of the officers addressed the case at a press conference Monday afternoon.
Below is a list of officers who have bonded out, along with their bond totals provided by the Travis County Sheriff’s Office. All were charged with aggravated assault by a public servant:
- Jeffrey Teng – $1 bond
- Rolan Rast – $5,000 bond
- Justin Berry – $1 bond
- Jeremy Fisher – $1 bond
- John Siegel – $5,000 bond
- Joseph Cast – $1 bond
- Derrick Lehman – $1 bond
- Edward Boudreau – $1 bond
- Kyle Felton (two counts) – $5,000 bond
- Todd Gilbertson – $1 bond
- Stanley Vick – $1 bond
- Christopher Irwin – $1 bond
- Joshua Jackson – $1 bond
- Josh Blake – $1 bond
- Kyu An – $5,000 bond
- Nicholas Gebhart – $5,000 bond
- Alexander Lomostev – $1 bond
- Brett Tabierou – $1 bond
KXAN spoke with outside legal experts who said it’s likely the judge was trying to make a statement by deciding on $1 bonds for some officers. It’s not known if one or several judges were assigned to these cases.
Officers John Siegel, Derrick Lehman, Kyle Felton, Kyu An and Nicholas Gebhart were named in June 2020 as being placed on paid administrative duty related to use-of-force complaints from the protests. Officer Jeffrey Teng was also named in October 2020 as being placed on paid administrative duty related to the protests.
The indictments were announced last Thursday. Travis County District Attorney José Garza said then the facts discovered through his office’s investigation of the incidents are “disturbing,” and they believe many protesters injured by law enforcement during the protests were “innocent bystanders.”
Garza said the protesters suffered “significant and serious injuries to the head, face and body,” and some may never recover.
Austin Police Chief Joseph Chacon responded immediately after the indictments were announced last Thursday, saying he was “extremely disappointed” in the announcement of the indictments.
Attorneys Doug O’Connell and Ken Ervin represent Sgt. Josh Blake, Sgt. Stanley Vick, Sgt. Brett Tableriou, Cpl. Ed Boudreau, Senior Officer Justin Berry, Senior Officer Eric Heim, Cpl. Christopher Irwin and Senior Officer Jeffrey Teng. O’Connell and Ervin said the officers were working under extreme conditions and had things thrown at them during the protests, including rocks, glass bottles, frozen water bottles and water bottles full of urine.
“The majority of our cases stem from when our clients were ordered to clear the I-35 bridge and remove protestors from the highway,” said O’Connell. “Each of our clients was cleared by internal affairs.”
The attorneys said their clients took orders from up the chain of command.
“The use of bean bag rounds were targeted in order to discourage people who would become violent or who were being violent. This therefore allowed other people who were protesting peacefully to continue to do so,” said Ervin. “Those Individuals who went for the canisters either to prevent them from working to clear the bridge or to use them as a weapons back towards the police officers — they were targeted with bean bag rounds, and they were targeted to prevent them from following through with these acts.”
There are no conditions for the officers’ bonds, but they will be on administrative leave within the department, performing duties like answering 311 calls. O’Connell said due to the COVID-19 court backlog, trails will not likely begin for at least a year. He told us after the news conference he does not know yet if his clients will be tried individually or as a group.
KXAN reached out to the district attorney’s office for comment. We expect to hear back Tuesday, because the office was closed Monday for Presidents’ Day.
At least one officer has been involved in a use-of-force case before. In November 2021, Joseph Cast was one of nine officers a grand jury found to be justified in their use of force during a 2018 shooting outside a Sixth Street nightclub. Aquantis Griffin died as a result of officers shooting him, after he raised a gun in the direction of officers and continued to ignore commands. The officers were not indicted for this incident.