Gov. Greg Abbott floats pardons for Austin police officers charged with excessive force in 2020 protests

Posted at 12:35 PM, Feb 23, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-23 13:35:29-05

AUSTIN, Texas — Gov. Greg Abbott on Wednesday blasted the indictment of more than a dozen Austin police officers for alleged excessive force during the May 2020 racial justice protests — and dangled the possibility of pardons for them.

“Those officers should be praised for their efforts, not prosecuted,” Abbott said in a statement. “Time will tell whether the accusations against the courageous Austin police officers is a political sham. Time will also tell whether I, as Governor, must take action to exonerate any police officer unjustly prosecuted.”

The indictments accuse the 19 officers of using deadly weapons to injure nearly a dozen demonstrators and threatening them with serious bodily harm during the May 2020 protests against police brutality following the killings of George Floyd in Minneapolis and Michael Ramos in Austin.

Each officer faces two counts of aggravated assault, a first-degree felony when committed by a law enforcement officer. The charges are punishable by five to 99 years in prison, or a fine of up to $10,000.

Abbott would need a majority of the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles, a board appointed by the governor, to approve any pardon issued by his office.

Staff writer Sneha Dey contributed to this report. This is a developing story; check back for details.

"Gov. Greg Abbott floats pardons for Austin police officers charged with excessive force in 2020 protests" was first published by The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, nonpartisan media organization that informs Texans — and engages with them — about public policy, politics, government and statewide issues.

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