A progressive district attorney in Austin, Texas, dropped indictments against 17 police officers involved in quelling Black Lives Matter riots in 2020, in a move that Austin cops past and present told Fox News Digital was a political smear. From the beginning by a top prosecutor determined to demonize the police. Regardless of the impact on the lives of law enforcement.
Travis County District Attorney Jose Garza Announce Monday His office dismissed 17 indictments against the police officers after a grand jury indicted 19 of them in February 2022 on charges of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon after non-lethal shots were fired into the crowd.
“Our community is safer when our community trusts law enforcement. When it believes law enforcement follows that law and protects the people who live here,” Garza said at the time. “There can be no trust if there is no accountability when law enforcement violates the law.”
The indictments were filed even though the officers were cleared of wrongdoing by the Austin Police Department, and critics of Garza, who is backed by liberal megadonor George Soros, pointed to his campaign promises to prosecute police officers and the progressive ideology that accuses him. Waging a “war on cops.”
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“This has nothing to do with justice, this has nothing to do with any wrongdoing,” Austin Police Officer Justin Perry, one of the accused officers whose charges were dropped last week, told Fox News Digital in 2022. He added: “It is simply about politics and politics. “A political agenda happened with these extreme liberal lawyers.”
“It’s stupid to think that these officers went out there with the idea that they were going to hurt people,” Dennis Farris, president of the Austin Retired Police Officers Association, told Fox News Digital.
“This was not the intention. The intent was to protect the police station and protect themselves from rocks, bottles, frozen water bottles, bottles containing bodily fluids that were thrown at them, some of the bottles contained bleach — they even had a man who was trying to light a Molotov cocktail.”
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The city has paid more than $18 million to resolve civil lawsuits related to the protests, and eight civil lawsuits remain pending. Fox Austin mentioned.
Members of law enforcement past and present who spoke with Fox News Digital said Garza’s decision to prosecute these officers caused “irreparable damage” to their lives.
“What Garza did to these officers is a travesty,” a current Austin police officer, who preferred to remain anonymous, told Fox News Digital. “Most people will never understand the psychological, physical, financial and other impacts that such an unjust nightmare has. They will never be the same. More broadly, it has had a significant negative impact on police morale, and played a role in police exodus.” officers from APD, thus making our city much less safe.”
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“The sooner Garza is gone, the better. It’s time to get back to real public safety in Austin.”
Perry issued a statement after the charges against him were dropped in which he said Garza had prosecuted him “not on the basis of facts” but “on the basis of frank sentiment in support of his personal agenda.”
“His quest for political power has violated the civil rights of me and 20 other officers, violated our freedom and constitutional rights, and tarnished our reputation.”
“Jose Garza has known for a long time that none of us violated any law, yet he continued his personal punishment,” Perry continued. “As I was told in the early days of this, this operation would be punishment.”
In total, more than 20 Austin police officers have been charged by Garza’s office, and Garza’s office is still indicting four officers.
Austin District Attorney Doug O’Connell, who represented nine of the officers whose charges were dropped, told Fox News Digital that prosecuting police officers is Garza’s “top priority” and that the evidence never supported the charges.
“We recognized early on that the evidence did not support an indictment or conviction in this matter,” O’Connell said.
“The impeachment of 17 of the 21 highlights and supports what we have seen from the beginning, which is that these were political indictments,” Ken Irvin, O’Connell’s fellow lawyer, told Fox News Digital. “We don’t think they really had any interest in seeing them.”
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In all, more than 20 Austin police officers have been indicted by Garza’s office and four officers remain indicted, including agents O’Connell and Irvin.
Although the charges were dropped, Garza’s office asked the Department of Justice to open an investigation into the officers’ actions and the “pattern or practice” of the Austin Police Department.
“No parent should fear that if their child chooses to express their First Amendment right to peaceful assembly, they will escape serious physical injury caused by the very person they are called upon to protect,” Garza said.
“We expect the Department of Justice to take our request seriously, and we look forward to working with Mayor Watson, Interim APD Chief Robin Henderson, and the City Council to ensure full cooperation with the Department of Justice’s investigation. We will also continue to hold law enforcement accountable who have broken the law.”
Irvin told Fox News Digital that the letter to the Justice Department was merely an attempt by Garza to “save face.”
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“They needed some reason to get rid of most of the cases, and that’s it, so they said, ‘Okay, we think it’s a systemic problem, it’s in the Austin Police Department so we’ll go to the Austin Police Department as a whole,'” Irvin said. “But it could have been done four years ago.” Two or three years ago, two years ago, one year ago.” That is why it is a false reason.”
“I think the political play was to exclude 17 people every now and then and come up with another reason why they should be excluded even more. It will be very difficult to prove and convict [them] Because of what the officers were doing. You know, using less-than-lethal munitions on rioters, more than half the administration was doing that for three days.
Fares agreed, telling Fox News Digital that Garza “should be very embarrassed.”
“Anytime they want to say we’re doing something, they hand it over to the feds,” Faris said.
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““Even though it is a good day and these 17 officers were acquitted, that does not make them unscathed,” Fares said. “It’s been almost two years that they’ve been living under this dark cloud of indictment. They thought they were going to be found guilty and possibly sent to prison for life for doing their job. That doesn’t make these officers perfect. They will never be perfect. They were basically used as political pawns.” By D.A.“
Regarding the investigation and charging decisions against the police officers, Garza’s office told Fox News Digital in a statement that “the process of these cases unfolded as it does in every criminal case in Travis County.”
“It has been clear throughout the two-year investigation into the Austin Police Department that there is an urgent need for systemic reform to prevent this from happening again in our community. The most effective way to achieve systemic change within the Austin Police Department is through the DOJ’s investigation,” the Attorney General’s Office said. .