Breaking News
More () »

Lawsuit filed against APD officer indicted for use of force during May 2020 protests

The suit claims the officer shot a protester three times with beanbag rounds, causing serious injuries, despite not posing a threat.

AUSTIN, Texas — A lawsuit has been filed against one of the 19 Austin Police Department officers indicted in connection with the May 2020 social justice protests for alleged excessive use of force.

The plaintiff, Bomani Barton, was at a protest on May 30, 2020, and claims Officer Kyu An shot him with beanbag rounds in the face, elbow and hip, causing permanent damage, although Barton posed no threat to An or anyone else, according to the lawsuit. 

The suit also names the City of Austin as a defendant.

According to the suit, Barton, his girlfriend and another friend attended a civil rights protest near the APD headquarters, where they protested peacefully for "several hours." After that, the suit states "police became more violent" upon getting "agitated" with the crowd and began pushing protesters and using pepper spray to silence the crowd.

With that, protesters began moving toward the Capitol and eventually found themselves back at the headquarters as police officers continued using pepper spray on "unarmed individuals who did not post a threat."

By that time, the suit states officers "resorted to wantonly spraying" pepper spray into crowds. Upon seeing that, Barton and his friends decided to stay toward the back of the protest away from the officers, the lawsuit says. When protesters turned around and started to march down the highway, Barton and his friends ended up toward the front of the group. 

That's when An blocked Barton and a handful of other protesters from marching by allegedly aiming a weapon at Barton without ordering a command to Barton or others. Barton's lawsuit claims he then raised his hands into a surrender position and begged An not to shoot him and slowly backed away with his arms up. 

Then, the suit continues that An shot Barton in the right hip "despite it being obvious that Mr. Barton posed no threat to Officer Kyu An or anyone else." Barton staggered back in pain before An shot him again, but in the right elbow, per the suit. Then, An allegedly approached Barton and shot a "close-range, point-blank" beanbag round at Barton's face.

Barton reportedly stumbled and fell to his knees with blood coming out from his mouth. The lawsuit said two of his teeth broke off and fell to the pavement. An then walked away, per the suit. 

Bystanders helped get Barton to EMS where he was loaded into an ambulance. 

Upon making it to the hospital, Barton underwent emergency surgery for a shattered jaw. His right elbow and hip were severely bruised and could not function properly, per the suit. 

Since then, he has undergone seven surgeries on his face, but the damage is permanent.

In addition to the alleged use of excessive force, the lawsuit states Barton was retaliated against for exercising his First Amendment rights of free speech and assembly. 

Read the full lawsuit here.

“As with all of the claims and lawsuits the City has received related to the May 2020 protests, we will handle this one respectfully and fairly," a City of Austin spokesperson said in response to KVUE's request for comment. "Each case is different, and we will review the facts and circumstances and advise our clients as appropriate.”

Officer An is one of the 19 APD officers recently indicted for their use of force during the 2020 protests in Austin amid other nationwide demonstrations. In that indictment, An was booked into the Travis County Jail on Feb. 18 and released on a surety bond the same day. The indicted officers have since been placed on administrative duty until their cases are resolved. 

The City has settled three lawsuits stemming from the May 2020 demonstrations for a total of more than $13 million. 

KVUE on social media: Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | YouTube


Strong cold front arrives Friday; freezing temperatures likely for Central Texas

The saga of the Battleship Texas and the search for its new home

Employees at Austin Starbucks location form union

Before You Leave, Check This Out