Woman shot with bean bag during 2020 protest sues City of Austin

A woman injured in what she is calling an act of police brutality is suing the City of Austin according to her attorney. Christen Warkoczewksi filed a federal civil rights lawsuit Wednesday against the City of Austin. 

Warkoczewksi's attorney says while attending a Black Lives Matter protest on May 31, 2020, an APD officer shot Warkoczewksi in the head with a bean bag shotgun round while she was running away from officers who had fired tear gas into the crowd. 

Warkoczewksi's attorney says she was seriously wounded and required surgery to repair her broken jaw and correct serious damage to her face.

"Shooting someone in the head while they are demonstrating against police violence, while also running away from officers, cannot be tolerated by any police department," said her attorney Jeff Edwards. "Christen went out that day to be an ally to the Black community, and to show that everyone should believe Black lives matter. Instead of respecting her First Amendment rights, the Austin Police Department responded by shooting her in the head and breaking his jaw."

APD officers had blocked off I-35 near police headquarters, and Warkoczewksi was said to be in a large crowd and marching on the interstate. According to her attorney, after APD officers fired tear gas into the crowd Warkoczewksi placed a traffic cone over it, then ran back toward the crowd, away from the officers. 

As she ran away from them, Warkoczewski's attorney claims an unknown officer fired a bean bag round from a shotgun into Warkoczewksi’s face, seriously injuring her.

"I have been representing victims of police violence for nearly 50 years, and APD’s response to peaceful demonstrations last year is some of the worst brutality I have seen," said Bobby Taylor, another attorney representing Warkoczewksi. "Instead of listening to the community, which was angered by the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis and the death of Mike Ramos at the hands of APD officers, the police doubled down on violence."

Warkoczewksi's attorney released photos taken after the incident that due to the graphic nature of the injuries are not being posted.

"APD leadership knew that the shotgun rounds could cause devastating injuries, yet they continued to have officers fire them at numerous people protesting. This type of misjudgment is as dangerous as it gets," said Edwards.

Another protestor, Anthony Evans, previously filed a lawsuit against the City of Austin and an unidentified Austin Police Department officer. He sustained similar injuries on the same day.

Jeff Edwards is legally representing both injured protestors.

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