State Watch

Abbott hints at exoneration for officers indicted over tactics at racial justice protests

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Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) on Wednesday hinted at the possibility for exoneration of Austin police officers indicted for their tactics in 2020 protests for racial justice.

Abbott alleged that the officers’ charges were a “political sham” in a statement

“In Austin, law enforcement officers defended the state Capitol from criminal assault, protected the Austin Police Department headquarters from being overrun, cleared the interstate from being shut down, and disrupted criminal activity in areas across the city,” Abbott said. 

“Many officers were physically attacked while protecting Austin. Those officers should be praised for their efforts, not prosecuted,” he added.

“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,” he continued. 

Meanwhile, Travis County District Attorney Jose Garza issued a statement on Wednesday saying that “no one is above the law,” according to The Associated Press.

“In these cases, Austin police officers indiscriminately fired deadly weapons into crowds of people,” the statement said. “Safety and accountability are our priority, not political talking points.”

Garza’s office made the indictments public on Tuesday, and all of the officers face charges of aggravated assault by a public servant over the injuries of a total of 10 people, the AP reported. 

Of the 19 officers charged, two were involved in injury cases that the city has settled for millions of dollars, according to the wire service.

Nelson Linder, who leads the Austin branch of the NAACP, said that the governor’s announcement on Thursday showed “an imbalance in the city when it comes to public safety,” the AP noted.

“As a Black person and Brown person and for everyone else as well, we ought to be very concerned about the politicization of police misconduct,” Linder said.

The Hill has reached out to Travis County District Attorney Jose Garza’s office for comment.

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