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Austin approves $1.75 million settlement in lawsuit over police conduct during 2020 protests

Monday, October 31, 2022 by Andrew Weber, KUT

City Council has approved a nearly $2 million settlement in a lawsuit related to police use of force during racial justice protests in 2020.

In his complaint, José “Joe” Herrera said Austin police shot him in the leg with a “less-lethal” round, causing lasting nerve damage and triggering PTSD related to his military service in Iraq. He claimed the incident caused “permanent disfigurement.”

The veteran is one of more than a dozen protesters who have sued the city over APD’s conduct during protests following the killings of George Floyd and Mike Ramos.

The city has now paid out $16.75 million in settlements related to police conduct, including the $1.75 million settlement for Herrera that Council approved Thursday.

The lawsuits have argued APD’s use of force was unnecessary and that the less-lethal ammunition, which includes shotgun shells filled with lead-pellet bags and 40mm foam bullets, is dangerous.

Nineteen officers were indicted on felony assault charges for using the ammunition, which APD has said it will no longer employ to control crowds.

Five additional cases have been filed in federal court.

Photo caption: Demonstrators protesting police violence run away from I-35 after Austin police officers fired tear gas on May 31, 2020.

This story was produced as part of the Austin Monitor’s reporting partnership with KUT.

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