Criminal JusticeLocal NewsMotion Filed to Compel Travis County District Attorney to Disclose Witnesses in Police Officer Indictments

Travis County District Attorney José Garza has not disclosed yet who he called as witnesses in the pursuit of indictments against police officers.
March 11, 2022
https://thetexan.news/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/APD-Protest-Conversation8-1280x853.jpg
The attorneys for eight indicted Austin police officers have asked the court to release the list of witnesses who Travis County District Attorney José Garza had testify in front of the grand jury.

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 Texan Tumbler

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.

###

Disclosure: Unlike almost every other media outlet, The Texan is not beholden to any special interests, does not apply for any type of state or federal funding, and relies exclusively on its readers for financial support. If you’d like to become one of the people we’re financially accountable to, click here to subscribe.

Get “KB's Hot Take”

A free bi-weekly commentary on current events by Konni Burton.

Brad Johnson

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.