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

Protesters run away from I-35 after Austin police officers fired tear gas May 31, 2020.
Michael Minasi
Demonstrators protesting police violence run away from I-35 after Austin police officers fired tear gas May 31, 2020.

The Austin City Council 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've sued the city over APD's conduct during protests after the deaths 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.

Andrew Weber is a general assignment reporter for KUT, focusing on criminal justice, policing, courts and homelessness in Austin and Travis County. Got a tip? You can email him at Follow him on Twitter @England_Weber.
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