Motions to compel the disclosure were filed for each of their eight clients. In all, 19 officers with the Austin Police Department (APD) were indicted on aggravated assault charges for firing less-lethal bean bag rounds during the 2020 protests-turned-riots — nearly two years after the incidents. Those rounds were allegedly defective, a fact that the department was apparently aware of but the officers who fired them were not.
Pointing to a part of the Texas Criminal Code that reads “The attorney shall endorse on the indictment the name of each witness on whose testimony the indictment was found,” the attorneys say that Garza is required by law to release the names of those witnesses he called for testimony.
During grand jury proceedings, the prosecuting attorney, in this case Garza, controls all the information presented to the body — deciding what to include and what to leave out.
“This law forces a District Attorney to name names; that is, it forces a District Attorney to write, on the face of the indictment itself, the names of the individuals who gave information leading to that very indictment,” the filing reads.
The filing states that law does not require Garza to disclose the evidence presented to the grand jury, but does require him to disclose who he presented.
To date, Garza has not disclosed the names of those witnesses who came before the grand jury.
“It is safe to assume at least one individual presented some sort of information to the grand jury,” the filing states. “The absence of that individual’s name, and the absence of the names of every other individual who spoke to the grand jury or otherwise presented information or evidence for the grand jury’s review, is an unequivocal violation of the law.”
The attorneys allege this nondisclosure violates their clients’ due process rights.
It adds, “[T]he historically unprecedented number of police officer indictments he has obtained in just over one year, suggests that Mr. Garza may be obtaining these indictments by excluding certain evidence, and importantly, certain witnesses, from the grand jury when such evidence and witnesses would be exculpatory in nature and exonerate the police officers.”
Garza did not take office until January 2021, five months after he unseated incumbent Margaret Moore in the Democratic primary. Garza ran on a platform of, in part, increasing prosecutions on police officers for improper conduct.
The indicted officers on whose behalf these motions were filed are:
- Sgt. Josh Blake – SWAT team member, 20-year APD vet
- Sgt. Stan Vick – Internal Affairs member, 16-year APD vet
- Sgt. Brett Tableriou – Sector Investigations member, 19-year APD vet
- Cpl. Ed Boudreau – Patrol Corporal assignment, 15-year APD vet
- Cpl. Christopher Irwin – Patrol Corporal assignment, 9-year APD vet
- Senior Officer Justin Berry – Special Events and Emergency Management Division assignment, 14-year APD vet
- Senior Officer Eric Heim – Background Investigator assignment, 7-year APD vet
- Senior Officer Jeff Teng – Patrol assignment, 5-year APD vet
Read the filing below.
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Brad Johnson is an Ohio native who graduated from the University of Cincinnati in 2017. He is an avid sports fan who most enjoys watching his favorite teams continue their title drought throughout his cognizant lifetime. In his free time, you may find Brad quoting Monty Python productions and trying to calculate the airspeed velocity of an unladen swallow.