Get out of jail free — or for just a buck.
At least eight Austin police officers who were indicted on felony charges for using excessive force during 2020 Black Lives Matter protests in the city were released on just $1 bond, according to the officers’ attorneys.
“Their bail was set at $1 and we posted their $1 bail for them, and they were processed in and out,” attorney Ken Ervin said in a press conference today.
The eight cops are part of a group of 19 Austin Police Department officers who have been charged with aggravated assault by a public servant for their interactions with protestors in the aftermath of George Floyd’s death at the hands of a police officer.
The Austin district attorney is looking into possible criminal action taken by officers after protestors were shot with bean bag rounds. Some protestors sustained serious injures, including brain damage.
If found guilty, the officers could face five years to life in prison.
Ervin, who is representing eight of the indicted officers, says the bond amount is up to a judge. Since these officers went through a special grand jury process and turned themselves in, the district attorney in Austin should have presented a summary to help the judge make an appropriate bond decision.
Those eight officers also do not have bond restrictions, says Ervin. Bond restrictions, such as travel limitations or turning over passports are common in felony cases.
The indictments for the officers were announced last week by Travis County District Attorney Jose Garza. More officers could be charged.
“You have Mr. Garza reviewing body-worn camera videotape, finding incidents that he believes are objectionable and adding people to the list,” said attorney Doug O’Connell, another attorney representing the officers.
O’Connell said some of his clients are police supervisors who gave orders to other officers and didn’t actually shoot bean bag rounds.
The charges surround a decision by the Austin Police Department to clear protestors from Interstate 35. Attorneys for the officers say the entire chain of command, up to the chief of police, supported the use of non-lethal weapons, such as bean bag rounds, to herd protestors away from the interstate.
“These aren’t rouge officers doing what they wanted to do,” said Ervin.
The City of Austin has settled with two injured protestors in agreements totaling $10 million. The Austin Police Department has also banned the use of bean bag rounds.