AUSTIN, Texas - The video of a protester being hit with less-than-lethal force replayed at Friday's special called council meeting.
“I don’t see him throwing any objects. It does not seem within policy to me. What steps are we taking to make sure that doesn't happen again?” said Greg Casar, district 4.
According to Austin Police Department Chief Brian Manley, one reason officers would deploy something like bean-bags, is if someone was participating in riotous behavior.
He outlined what went right and what went wrong from last Saturday until Friday. “We made 56 arrests during this period of time,” said Manley.
Charges included burglary, inciting a riot, and more. The chief explained he wasn't proud of some tactics used last weekend, but all use of force is under review.
He also explained why some of the cops did what they did to protect themselves. “They were having bottles, rocks and incendiary devices, fireworks, and others thrown at them. After giving repeated commands for the group to leave the highway and their refusal to do so the officers first deployed canisters of smoke then followed by CS gas, commonly known as tear gas,” said Manley.
As part of an immediate change, the department will no longer deploy bean bag rounds in crowds. Council expressed their dismay with leadership, hoping for better and safer tactics.
“Chief, for our city to heal, for our community to make progress I think the honorable thing for you to do would be to resign as police chief,” said Casar.
“I have to join my colleagues to ask the chief to reconsider your role in this organization, including asking for your honorable resignation,” said Delia Garza, mayor pro-tem.
The Office of Police Oversight said they received 159 complaints over the last few days, a new record.
“During the 15 to 16 years of the police monitor office, the average number of complaints were at 50 a year,” said Farah Muscadin, director.
Manley did note that although the weekend tactics are questionable, the following weekday protests took a positive turn.
“If you saw images from those nights, you saw images of Austin police officers walking arm in arm with protesters at city hall, escorting groups to the capitol. That is what we wanted to happen Saturday and Sunday,” he said.
It is that spirit of unity that many on the council are hoping the City of Austin can move forward with.
“We are all back here to cease this moment to learn and make change. I think it's important we rise to this occasion,” said Mayor Steve Adler.