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'Those officers should be praised for their efforts, not prosecuted' | Gov. Abbott responds to APD officer indictments

"Time will also tell whether I, as governor, must take action to exonerate any police officer unjustly prosecuted," Abbott said.

AUSTIN, Texas — After the Travis County District Attorney's Office issued indictments for 19 Austin Police Department (APD) officers for assault charges relating to the 2020 protests, Gov. Greg Abbott is speaking out in support of those officers.

Gov. Abbott issued a statement Wednesday in support of the officers:

"Last year, Austin set an all-time record for the number of murders. It comes as no surprise that murders increased after Austin decreased funding for law enforcement. In Texas, we do not defund and denigrate our law enforcement officers. Instead we support them for risking their own lives and safety to protect our communities from people who endanger and attack our communities. In 2020, Texas experienced violent protests that wreaked havoc on our cities. In Austin, law enforcement officers defended the state Capitol from criminal assault, protected the Austin Police Department headquarters from being overrun, cleared the interstate from being shut down, and disrupted criminal activity in areas across the city. Many officers were physically attacked while protecting Austin. Those officers should be praised for their efforts, not prosecuted. Time will tell whether the accusations against the courageous Austin police officers is a political sham. Time will also tell whether I, as governor, must take action to exonerate any police officer unjustly prosecuted."

Twenty indictments were issued for 19 officers (one of them having two separate indictments) 20 months after the George Floyd protests in Austin. The KVUE Defenders also discovered new records that revealed a chaotic police operation that officials admit could have contributed to protester injuries. You can read more on that report here.

Abbott's comments also come as the city settled two civil lawsuits for a combined $10 million against seriously injured protesters Justin Howell and Anthony Evans. Howell received $8 million while Evans got $2 million. 

As governor, Abbott has the power to pardon anyone convicted of a crime in Texas. While he did not exclusively say he would pardon the officers, if convicted, his words certainly suggests he would do so. 

The district attorney's office released the following statement following Abbott's on Wednesday:

“Unlike the governor, we believe that no one is above the law, and that our communities are safer when people see and believe that is true. In these cases, Austin police officers indiscriminately fired deadly weapons into crowds of people. Many of the people hit were innocent bystanders and they suffered severe and lasting injuries. Our investigation into this matter continues. Safety and accountability are our priority, not political talking points.”

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