AUSTIN, Texas - 21 Austin police officers are now under grand jury review, according to law enforcement defense attorney Doug O’Connell.
O’Connell shared the information Thursday. Wednesday, the Travis County District Attorney’s Office verified that 18 officers were under review for their actions at May 2020 racial justice protests.
The officers fired less-lethal munitions at protestors, injuring several - some critically.
"In no way should these officers be culpable for their actions because we believe they were provided with faulty, expired ammunition that caused these serious injuries." said Casaday.
Casaday told FOX 7 Austin the less lethal ammunition was improperly stored and expired - therefore defective and more harmful. O’Connell supported the claim.
"That's just like a police union 101 tactic. ‘Who else can we blame as opposed to holding ourselves accountable?’" said Chas Moore of the Austin Justice Coalition.
FOX 7 Austin spoke with Charles Stephenson, a former FBI agent and use of force expert about the union president and attorney’s statements. Stephenson noted that several protestors were shot in the head.
"The aim point for the non-lethal beanbag weapon would normally be below the neck or above the waist." he said.
FOX 7 Austin asked Casaday why several protestors were shot in the head.
"If you shoot a bean bag at a person from a distance it can go up, it can go down, it can go to the left or right. A lot of our officers said they didn’t even shoot the person they were aiming at, or they were aiming at someone's belly button and hit them in the head." he said.
As for defective munition resulting in more severe injury, Stephenson said more information is needed to verify the claim.
FOX 7 Austin requested documents from the police department and was told they are likely restricted. The outlet is waiting on a records request.
"Whatever type of synthetic material or that the contents of a bag are wrapped in, as long as that stays intact, then that impact that big bag when it strikes will deliver the force that that that you expect in less lethal manner." said Stephenson.
Still, he said it is possible the munition degraded resulting in more severe injury.
"So that when the bean bag struck that bean bag actually ruptured and sent the contents of the bean bag out very similar to like buckshot from a pistol." he explained.
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