Texas Gov. Abbott releases statement in support of 19 indicted Austin police officers

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Texas Gov. Greg Abbott issued a statement Wednesday in defense of the 19 Austin Police Department officers who were indicted on felony charges by progressive Travis County District Attorney Jose Garza, a Democrat. 

“Last year, Austin set an all-time record for the number of murders. It comes as no surprise that murders increased after Austin decreased funding for law enforcement,” the Texas Republican said in the statement. “In Texas, we do not defund and denigrate our law enforcement officers. Instead we support them for risking their own lives and safety to protect our communities from people who endanger and attack our communities.”

FILE - In this March 16, 2020, file photo, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott speaks during a news conference in San Antonio.

FILE – In this March 16, 2020, file photo, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott speaks during a news conference in San Antonio.
(AP Photo/Eric Gay, File)

AUSTIN CRIME WATCHDOG CALLS ON DA GARZA TO STEP ASIDE IN CASE AGAINST 19 INDICTED OFFICERS

The statement continued, “In 2020, Texas experienced violent protests that wreaked havoc on our cities. 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. Many officers were physically attacked while protecting Austin. Those officers should be praised for their efforts, not prosecuted. 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.”

Abbott’s statement comes the week after 19 Austin Police officers were indicted by Garza’s office for their role in quelling a riot following the death of George Floyd in 2020 that left several protesters seriously injured.

(Travis County DA Website)

Garza, who campaigned on a promise to prosecute police, charged each officer with first degree felony charges that carry prison sentences of 5 to 99 years in prison.

AS AUSTIN HOMICIDES RISE 19 COPS ARE HIT WITH FELONY CHARGES, POLICE OFFICERS FURIOUS: ‘NEW WAR ON COPS’

Over a dozen officers were injured by protesters during the unrest on May 30 and 31 of 2020 including several officers who were struck by bottles, rocks, jars of paint, and frozen water bottles that were hurled at them by the unruly mob. Some protesters were also injured by beanbag rounds the officers used, per department policy at the time, to restore order. 

The Austin City Council approved last week two settlement agreements with protesters who were seriously injured during the clash between officers and protesters, according to KXAN.

Legal representation for the officers and local police unions have claimed that those beanbag rounds were defective.

Texas Governor Greg Abbott.

Texas Governor Greg Abbott.
(Photo by Lynda M. Gonzalez-Pool/Getty Images)

“The department issued these officers old and deteriorated beanbag rounds,” attorney Doug O’Connell told Fox News. “So rather than coming out as a soft beanbag they came out as a hardened projectile…so you had rioters who were seriously injured by these beanbags and it shouldn’t have happened but it’s not the officers’ fault it’s management’s fault.”

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“It’s probably a very righteous personal injury case,” O’Connell added. “But it doesn’t make the officers’ actions illegal or a criminal offense.”

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