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police accountability

Report: 19 Austin police officers indicted for handling of 2020 protests

A grand jury in Texas has indicted 19 Austin police officers on charges of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon in connection with their actions during 2020 protests over police brutality and the death of George Floyd, people familiar with the matter told The Associated Press on Thursday.

Travis County District Attorney Jose Garza spoke to reporters on Thursday afternoon about the grand jury, but did not share any details, including how many officers were indicted. Austin Police Association President Ken Cassidy said "numerous officers" have been indicted, but did not have the exact number. He called the indictments "devastating" and accused Garza of "ruin[ing] lives and careers simply to fulfill a campaign promise."

Garza said his office will prosecute anyone who causes harm, and believes "our community is safer when our community trusts enforcement. When it believes law enforcement follows that law and protects the people who live here. There cannot be trust if there is no accountability when law enforcement breaks the law."

Earlier Thursday, the Austin City Council approved two settlements for people injured by police during the protests — $8 million will go to Justin Howell, who suffered a cracked skull and brain damage after being hit by a beanbag round, and $2 million will go to Anthony Evans, whose jaw was damaged after he was hit by a beanbag round. At the time of the protests, Howell was 20 and Evans was 26.

The settlements are reminders of "a real difficult and painful moment in our city," Austin Mayor Steve Adler said.