Police officers indicted over actions during protests sue Austin



Austin police officers stand guard in downtown Austin on May 30, 2020, during the protests for racial justice spurred by George Floyd’s murder by a Minneapolis police officer.

SNEHA DEY, Texas Tribune

AUSTIN, Texas — Austin police officers facing indictments over their use of force during racial justice protests two years ago are suing the city, saying they didn’t receive training on how to use the “less than lethal” rounds employed during the demonstrations and that city officials knew the rounds were defective and “did nothing to remove them from service.”

When protesters flooded the streets of Austin in May 2020 after the murder of George Floyd, Austin police officers used 12-gauge shotguns to fire beanbag rounds — small cloth baggies filled with lead — at demonstrators. Several people were seriously wounded and sued the city, resulting in over $13 million in settlements.

The five officers who filed the lawsuit Wednesday were Joshua Jackson, Rolan Rast, Todd Gilbertson, Derrick Lehman and Alexander Lomovtseva. Police officers across units were asked to respond to the protests, including patrolmen and detectives with little training on riot response, the lawsuit says.

The officers are seeking over $1 million in compensation for the physical injuries, post-traumatic stress and lost wages that resulted from their involvement in the protests and what they are calling negligent leadership.

The lawsuit also names activist groups as defendants, including Black Lives Matter and the Austin Justice Coalition, for encouraging “rioting, looting and violence.”

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