Criminal JusticeIssuesLocal NewsDallas County Grand Jury Indicts North Texas Officers on Charges of Assaulting Protesters in 2020

Dallas Police Department Senior Cpl. Ryan Mabry and former Senior Cpl. Melvin Williams face up to life in prison if convicted.
May 10, 2022
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A Dallas County grand jury indicted several North Texas former and current police officers on multiple felony charges, accusing them of assaulting demonstrators in downtown Dallas during the riots and protests in May 2020.

The indictments charge Dallas Police Department (DPD) Senior Cpl. Ryan Mabry, age 36, with six counts of aggravated assault by a public servant and two counts of deadly conduct. Mabry also faces three misdemeanor counts of official oppression that were filed in February.

Mabry is accused of assaulting David McKee, Brandon Saenz, and at least one unknown individual. Three counts stem from injuries Saenz sustained and another three counts arose from McKee’s complaints.

Former DPD Senior Cpl. Melvin Williams, age 41, faces four counts of aggravated assault by a public servant and two counts of deadly conduct. Williams was also previously charged with three counts of official oppression.

DPD fired Williams in January “for violating the department’s use of force policy on a separate incident.”

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McKee is the complaining witness in two of the charges against Williams, who is also accused of assaulting at least one unknown individual.

The grand jury charged Joe Privitt, an officer with the Garland Police Department, with one count of aggravated assault by a public servant.

Dallas County District Attorney John Creuzot had already filed charges against Mabry and Williams, but he had only charged each of them with three felonies.

Creuzot’s office highlighted the amount of time investigators have been working on the case.

“These indictments as returned by the Grand Jury are the result of almost 2 years of investigation by the Dallas Police Department and the Dallas County District Attorney’s Office. In cases where bonds have not been posted, warrants for arrest will be issued,” the office stated in a news release.

During the investigation, Creuzot sought information from the public on possible misconduct by police officers during the demonstrations.

Aggravated assault by a public servant is a first-degree felony, which carries a minimum of five years and a maximum of 99 years or life imprisonment in addition to up to a $10,000 fine.

DPD Chief Eddie Garcia stated at a news conference on Friday that it is “difficult” for police departments when officers are indicted. Garcia stated that the “process has been unprecedented.”

“The message to the community today should be in light of these protests, riots, and looting that there were hundreds of officers that were professional and did their duty to defend this city,” Garcia told reporters. “If the actions of that day rose to criminal intent, that is for a jury to decide at this point.”

He called the 2020 riots “one of the most chaotic times” in the history of Dallas.

Garcia said that less than lethal rounds of ammunition have saved “hundreds of lives” and give officers more options when confronting hostile situations.

He seemed to disagree with the grand jury’s characterization of 40 mm launchers as deadly weapons when used to shoot less than lethal rounds of ammunition, suggesting that the outcome would not have been any better if officers had used batons instead.

Though he conceded DPD officers “weren’t perfect” that day, he repeatedly emphasized the role of the jury in determining whether Mabry’s and Williams’ actions were criminal.

“I’m not quite sure if there was criminal intent,” Garcia remarked.

When asked if DPD intends to change its policies in view of the criminal charges against Mabry and Williams, Garcia pointed to the objectives of the department.

“The goals are to defend our protesters, to protect our officers, and to ensure this city doesn’t burn. Those are the goals that will always be the goals,” Garcia.

“The tactics, what a professional police department will do is look at the tactics used and maybe modify some tactics, which this department already has done. But those goals will never change and this city needs to know that this police department’s goals will never change.”

A copy of the news release from the district attorney’s office announcing the indictments can be found below.

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Hayden Sparks

Hayden Sparks is a reporter for The Texan. He has coached high school competitive speech and debate and has also been involved in community theater and politics. A native Texan, Hayden served as a delegate at the Republican Party of Texas Convention in 2016. He is on track to receive a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Liberty University. In his free time, Hayden is known to take walks around the neighborhood while listening to random music on Spotify.