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Veteran accuses Austin police of excessive force during Black Lives Matter protest

Protesters gathered in front of Austin police headquarters. [RICARDO B. BRAZZIELL/AMERICAN-STATESMAN/TNS]

A protester who participated in demonstrations in downtown Austin earlier this year is suing an Austin police officer in federal court, accusing him of using excessive force.

Jose Herrera, a military veteran who served in Iraq and now has post-traumatic stress disorder, according to court documents filed earlier this week, was shot in the leg with a beanbag round while attending a Black Lives Matter protest on May 30 near Austin Police Department headquarters.

Court documents stated that the Austin police officer, who was not named, shot Herrera after a different protester threw a water bottle. Herrera fell to the ground after being shot in the right thigh, according to the Monday court filing.

Herrera’s leg was seriously injured by the beanbag round, which caused permanent disfigurement and ongoing pain, and he is experiencing psychological distress from the incident, the lawsuit said.

Herrera was neither armed nor acting in a threatening way and was exercising his right to protest, the court document stated. He is seeking payment for the treatment of physical and psychological injuries stemming from the incident and asked for punitive action against the officer who is accused of shooting the beanbag round.

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Herrera is being represented by Jeff Edwards, whose Austin law firm is representing multiple protesters in excessive-force lawsuits against the Austin Police Department.

Hundreds of Austinites joined others around the country this summer in protesting police brutality and racism following the deaths of George Floyd, a Black man in Minneapolis, and Breonna Taylor, a Black woman in Louisville, Kentucky, at the hands of mostly white police officers.

In Austin, protesters also rallied in support of Michael Ramos, who was shot and killed by Austin police in April.

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(c) 2020 Austin American-Statesman

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