AUSTIN (KXAN) — After the 2020 protests, Austin Police Department stopped using less lethal bean bag rounds during crowd situations, but now those bean bag rounds could play a role in deciding the fates of multiple APD officers facing indictments.
“There were significant portions of time when the crowds were riotous and violent,” said APD Chief Joseph Chacon, following the announcement that multiple APD officers would be issued indictments.
One topic that came up at the press conference was the equipment used during the protests.
“The weapons provided to our officers did not perform in all instances in the manner anticipated,” said Chacon. “APD recognized this and now prohibits the use of less lethal munitions in crowd control situations.”
Doug O’Connell, who is representing some of the officers, said rocks, frozen water bottles and other objects were thrown at the officers during the protests. Officers used less lethal bean bag rounds to disperse the crowd in some cases.
“The bean bag rounds that were issued to the officers were defective,” O’Connell said. “Rather than coming out of the shotgun as a sock filled with bb’s it came out as a slug.”
Some of the protesters were severely injured from the rounds.
Howard Williams worked for APD for 25 years; he said officers always are trained with the equipment they use, but the less lethal options can be deadly if used incorrectly.
“The idea is to aim low,” Williams said. “You don’t want to hit anyone in the head or the chest.”
Williams said bean bag rounds can also be hard to aim.
“They are a little bag, and so they kind of float. It is like throwing a knuckle ball,” Williams said.
Williams said ammunition does have an expiration date, and when he worked in law enforcement, they would try to change it out yearly.