Attorneys for eight of the 19 Austin, Texas, police officers facing indictments stemming from tactics used during the 2020 protests over racial injustice said Monday they have yet to receive the indictments.
Attorney Ken Ervin said during a news conference in Austin that the indictments are expected to be released Tuesday and that defense attorneys have not seen them.
Ervin said the officers use of bean bags, smoke and gas to disperse the crowd was authorized by police commanders and that the officers had come under attack by some of the protesters.
“Our officers were struck with frozen water bottles, water bottles filled with urine, glass bottles, rocks, exploding fireworks.” Ervin said.
Ervin said there was also an attempt to throw a Molotov cocktail at the officers, but it was taken before it could be lit.
Attorney Doug O’Connell said the eight officers he and Ervin represent are free on bond and that all were previously cleared by an internal police investigation. No information about the status of the remaining 11 officers, including whether they had received the indictments, was immediately available Monday.
Texas law requires that an indictment remain secret until an officer has been arrested. O’Connell said his clients were booked and released Friday and Saturday.
The eight officers include Sgts. Josh Blake, Stan Vick and Brett Tableriou; Cpls. Ed Boudreau Christopher Irwin; and officers Justin Berry, Eric Heim and Jeff Teng.
A Texas grand jury on Friday indicted the officers on charges of aggravated assault for their actions during protests over racial injustice that spread nationwide following the killing of George Floyd.
The officers are “horrified, demoralized. The are worried about their families, they’re worried about their future,” O’Connell said.
O’Connell said he believes the charges are politically motivated because of Travis County District Attorney Jose Garza’s campaign promise to take a tougher stance on police accountability when he ran for the office.
The officers are on paid administrative leave pending the outcome of a trial, which O’Connell said could be more than a year away.
Garza has denied the allegation that the charges are driven by politics.