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Texas officers charged with assault over response to George Floyd protests

by The New York Times | May 7, 2022 at 10:00 p.m.

Two Dallas police officers were indicted Friday on assault charges over their response to demonstrators protesting George Floyd's killing two years ago, actions that fractured the orbital socket of one man and injured two others, authorities said.

The officers, Senior Cpl. Ryan A. Mabry and former Senior Cpl. Melvin A. Williams, each face two counts of deadly conduct, a felony, and charges of aggravated assault by a public servant, the Dallas County District Attorney's Office announced.

A third officer, Joe Privitt of the Garland Police Department, was indicted on one count of aggravated assault by a public servant, though details of what led to his indictment were not immediately available.

An investigation found that during protests on May 30, 2020, in downtown Dallas, Mabry used a launcher to shoot a man with an impact foam projectile, according to an arrest warrant. Another investigation found that Williams also shot someone using a launcher containing such a projectile, according to a warrant.

The launcher used by the officers is considered a deadly weapon under the Texas Penal Code, court records said.

According to a warrant for Williams, a man said he suffered a fractured orbital socket and vision issues after being shot in the face with the projectile.

Video footage from police body cameras, security cameras and the man's phone show that the man was unarmed and did not make any threats to the officers, records show. At the time he was shot, the man was walking backward away from officers while recording them with this phone, a warrant said.

Williams also fired a shot from his launcher that struck an unarmed man in the posterior from 49 feet away, according to an arrest warrant.

Body camera footage from police officers captured the moments when another man appeared to be struck in the groin area by a projectile. The man had nothing in his hands and "did not make any furtive movements," a warrant said.

Body camera footage from another police officer, Michael Bui, recorded someone believed to be Bui saying, "He is going to be hurting tomorrow," according to court papers.

Moments later, body camera footage captured a conversation between Bui, who was not charged, and Mabry. In the video, Bui asked Mabry if he had shot a man; the corporal said he did, and fist-bumped Bui, according to the warrant.

"We have the high-velocity rounds," Mabry said, according to the warrant. "This is why I was able to get him from that far away."

Mabry also fired two shots at a man, striking him in the right bicep, left testicle and thigh, court papers said.

The indictments have echoes of other misconduct cases involving officers responding to protests over the killing of Floyd in police custody in 2020, such as in Austin, Texas; Columbus, Ohio; and Denver, where the police used force to break up demonstrations.

Williams was fired from the Dallas Police Department in January for violating the department's use-of-force policy in a separate episode, and Mabry is on administrative leave while he is being investigated, the Dallas police said.

Privitt will be placed on administrative duties, the Garland police said.

Robert Rogers, a lawyer for Williams, said Friday that Williams had two options when he was called into action: "Do nothing, allow downtown to burn and his fellow officers to get injured, or use the tools that he was provided and called on to use by his command staff to suppress the ongoing riots. He obviously chose the latter and now faces even more absurd criminal charges for lawfully targeting individuals that were clearly agitators."

A lawyer for Mabry did not immediately respond to requests for comment Friday. It was unclear whether Privitt, who could not be immediately reached, had a lawyer.

Chief Eddie Garcia of the Dallas Police Department said Friday that "the negative light that has been shown on our department today is difficult for the brave men and women who protect our city day in and day out."

Chief Jeff Bryan of the Garland Police Department said that he was "astonished and disappointed" to see that Privitt had been indicted.

It was not immediately clear what led to Privitt's indictment, but Bryan said some Garland officers, including Privitt, had been sent to help Dallas police as demonstrators protested in downtown Dallas.

"Given the dangerous circumstances faced by our officers on the night of the riots, I have not seen the evidence against Officer Privitt that rises to the level of the criminal conduct that has been alleged by the grand jury," Bryan said.

This article originally appeared in The New York Times.

Print Headline: Texas officers charged with assault over response to George Floyd protests

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