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Two more APD officers indicted in 2020 protest use-of-force investigations

The Travis County District Attorney's Office previously announced a total of 19 indictments related to the use of less-lethal ammunition.

AUSTIN, Texas — After previously announcing the indictments of 19 Austin police officers, the Travis County District Attorney's Office on Friday announced two more indictments related to use of force during the 2020 protests in Downtown Austin.

The latest indictments were returned by a special grand jury in the 460th Judicial District Court for officers Chance Bretches and James Morgan. Their cases will be prosecuted by the office's Civil Rights Unit.

The two-count indictments came down on Thursday, charging both officers with the felony offenses of aggravated assault with serious bodily injury by a public servant and aggravated assault with a deadly weapon by a public servant, both first-degree felonies.

The district attorney's office said a victim in one of the cases – Maredith Drake – was allegedly serving as a medic, assisting another person when she was reportedly shot by Bretches. Her injuries resulted in the loss of part of her finger. The victim in the other – Jose Herrera – was allegedly shot by Morgan, also suffering serious bodily injury.

Officials said Bretches’ case will be prosecuted and is pending in the 299th Judicial District Court for Travis County and Morgan’s case will be prosecuted and is pending in the 427th court.

“If these allegations are true, they have serious repercussions for the Austin and Travis County community,” said Travis County District Attorney José Garza. “Our community is safer when the community trusts law enforcement, believes that law enforcement follows the law, and protects those who live here. There cannot be trust if there is no accountability when law enforcement breaks the law.”

Austin Police Department Chief Joseph Chacon issued a statement on the new indictments.

“I have been made aware of the indictments issued by the Travis County Grand Jury related to the May 2020 protests against two additional Austin Police Department Officers. As the officers go through this legal process, I have been and will remain supportive of the hardworking men and women of the Austin Police Department.

As I stated before, these officers attempted to protect themselves and other protest participants in many instances during those protests, and I am not aware of any conduct that, given the circumstances the officers worked under, would rise to the level of a criminal violation by these officers.

I remain confident relevant evidence will be made available during the legal process, and these officers will have their day in court.”

The Austin Police Department has ceased using less-lethal rounds as a method of crowd control in the wake of the protests.

For information on the other 19 officers, click here.

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