AUSTIN (KXAN) — Documents obtained by KXAN reveal more details about the 19 Austin police officers who were indicted over the May 2020 racial justice protests.
Official indictment documents for all 19 officers show they are accused of harming a total of 10 people during the chaos of the protests. Each of the officers faces two counts of aggravated assault by a public servant.
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 had 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.
All but one of the indictment documents were near-exact copies of one another. KXAN learned nine of the officers are accused of injuring one protester in particular.
The indictment lists that person as Christen Warkoczewski. According to her legal complaint against the city, during the protest on May 31, she was near the line of officers blocking off Interstate 35 when she was hit in the face by a bean bag fired upon her, fracturing her jaw and leaving her disfigured.
“Some of the people I represent suffered horrific injuries,” said Jeff Edwards, who represents Warkoczewski in a civil lawsuit that’s still underway.
The District Attorney’s Office could not comment on why multiple officers were indicted in connection to one person, so we asked retired judge Charlie Baird for insight.
“It is not unusual for there to be one injury but multiple defendants being charged with causing that particular injury,” he said. “You can have a number of individuals working towards a same goal. In this instance it would be to assault or restrain or stop a protestor. Perhaps you don’t know whose projectile it was that hit the individual. That would be sorted out perhaps later.”
The documents do not indicate which officer in the line is accused of firing the shot that hit her.
Baird also said the aggravated assault charges — as they were presented to the grand jury — would stand even if Warkoczewski was not the intended target.
Of the 19 officers indicted, eight of them are represented by the same attorneys: Doug O’Connell and Ken Ervin.
O’Connell and Ervin maintain their clients were following orders to clear the freeway.
All 19 officers are out on bond now. Fourteen of them were released on bonds set by a judge at $1.
Judge Robert Perkins was the judge who set that bond. KXAN has learned Perkins actually retired in 2010. He was first elected in 1974 and spent 36 years on the bench, running as a democrat in his elections.
It was unclear why Perkins was brought back for this case or why Perkins set the bond so low.
We asked DA Garza about that as well and were told the office could not comment on that either at this time.
Baird also provided third-party insight on this.
“With the bond so low as a dollar, the judge clearly thought there was no threat to public safety,” he said. “Or that there was any danger the individuals named in the indicted would not in fact appear in court and answer to the charge of the indictment.”
The Travis County DA’s Office told us Wednesday it agreed to the $1 bond.
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, trials will not likely begin for at least a year. He told us he does not know yet if his clients will be tried individually or as a group.
Officers who were indicted
Below is a list of officers who have bonded out, along with their bond totals provided by the Travis County Sheriff’s Office.
- 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 indictments) – $5,000 bond for each charge
- 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 Tableriou – $1 bond
- Eric Heim – released on a $1 bond