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City of Austin settles May 2020 protest lawsuit for $1.75 million

Thursday's settlement brings the total number of protest-related settlements to eight.

AUSTIN, Texas — The City of Austin on Thursday settled another lawsuit filed by a person injured by a police officer during the 2020 social justice protests.

According to a report by KVUE's news partners at the Austin American-Statesman, the settlement approved by the Austin City Council was for $1.75 million. 

The suit was brought by United States Army veteran Joe Herrera, who was injured in a protest on May 30, 2020, following the deaths of Michael Ramos and George Floyd. According to the lawsuit, Herrera and his wife attended the protest in Downtown Austin that day. 

After hours of protesting, he sat across the frontage road from the Austin Police Department headquarters and faced in the building's direction, where APD officers were stationed facing protesters, per the suit. Someone "significantly away from him" tossed what appeared to be a plastic water bottle, after which APD officers reportedly opened fire on Herrera and others. 

According to the suit, Herrera was hit with a less-lethal bean bag round and fell to the ground. The projectile left a serious wound with permanent disfigurement and ongoing pain, numbness and tingling, per the suit. 

The lawsuit states Herrera also suffered from "significant mental anguish and psychological distress" from the May 2020 incident in addition to chronic PTSD from his military service in Iraq. 

The Statesman reported this latest settlement marked the eighth related to injuries from the May 2020 protests. The City has paid out a total of $16.6 million in the cases using money generated from taxes. That number is expected to continue increasing as about a dozen additional cases remain pending, per the report. 

Read the full report by the Statesman online here.

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