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Three North Texas officers indicted on felony assault charges for force used on anti-police brutality protesters in 2020

Shelby Tauber for The Texas Tribune

Two North Texas police officers and a former police officer were indicted Friday on felony charges accusing them of using excessive force against demonstrators protesting against police brutality in May 2020.

Dallas police officer Ryan Mabry and former Dallas officer Melvin Williams were indicted on multiple felony counts of aggravated assault by a public servant and deadly conduct for their involvement with the protests, according to a press release from the Dallas County district attorney’s office. Garland police officer Joe Privitt was indicted on one felony count of aggravated assault by a public servant. The indictments come after nearly two years of investigation, District Attorney John Creuzot said in the release.

The release does not detail the specific actions the men allegedly took against protesters. Copies of their indictments could not be obtained late Friday.

Arrest warrants were issued for Mabry and Williams in February. Each also faces three counts of official oppression. The two officers’ lawyers did not respond to immediate requests for comment.

The two men allegedly used so-called less-lethal projectiles, which are a crowd control measure meant to injure, not kill. But their ​​colloquial name acknowledges their capability to kill depending on where a person is hit. They have also caused serious injuries.

In February, Mabry’s attorney, Toby Shook, told The Texas Tribune that demonstrators were intentionally provoking the police.

“These incidents involved here were not peaceful protests by any means,” Shook said at the time. The officers “had a duty to suppress these riots or unlawful assemblies of folks to protect lives and property, and that’s what they did.”

Following the murder of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer, protests against police departments’ excessive use of force and mistreatment of people of color erupted around the country and in several Texas cities, including in Austin, Houston, San Antonio and Fort Worth, in addition to Dallas.

In Austin, 19 police officers face felony charges for excessive use of force during the May protests. Nine of them — including Texas House candidate Justin Berry — are accused of shooting lead-pellet beanbag rounds at the same woman, according to Travis County indictments.

Before facing the charges for his involvement in the 2020 protests, Williams was fired in late January for a separate incident in which he violated the department’s use-of-force policy during a July 2021 incident captured on video. The video shows Williams repeatedly punching a man in the face during a brawl in Deep Ellum. He was already under two use-of-force investigations, according to The Dallas Morning News.

This article originally appeared in The Texas Tribune at https://www.texastribune.org/2022/05/06/dallas-garland-texas-police-officers-george-floyd-protests/.

The Texas Tribune is a member-supported, nonpartisan newsroom informing and engaging Texans on state politics and policy. Learn more at texastribune.org.

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