Up to 18 Austin police officers could be charged with excessive force after 2020 George Floyd protests
Charges are being considered against up to 18 Austin police officers on a dozen excessive force cases after 30 protesters left the Black Lives Matter protests with injuries in the summer of 2020, according to a report from the Austin-American Statesman.
Six of the 12 potential cases involve shots fired to the head, causing brain injury and broken jaws.
Investigations into the cases, which focus on officers' use of "less-lethal" beanbag ammunition at police brutality protests in the wake of George Floyd's death, are expected to close at the end of the month. A 12-person grand jury has been examining the cases for several weeks as they determine whether they should proceed into criminal trials.
In all, 30 protesters from ages 16-43 were injured with beanbag rounds in the summer protests, causing injuries ranging from brain injury to broken bones. Two attorneys representing the officers say they fired the shots due to threats including frozen water bottles and rocks thrown at them during the protests.
But many of the injured say they were not causing any harm when they were shot.
Protesters march on I-35 across from APD headquarters in the summer of 2020. (Austonia)
A then-16-year-old Brad Ayala was caught on video far from police with his hands in his pockets when he was knocked to the ground by a bean bag shot to his forehead, causing injury that led to seven hours of surgery.
A volunteer medic named Maredith Drake said she was helping an injured protester when she was hit herself with a beanbag round, injuring her hand. Instead of helping her, as a 2020 lawsuit says she requested, APD officers "laughed out loud at her" and told her to get back.
A then-28-year-old deaf man named Tyree Talley was unaware that police had cleared an area when he was shot in the groin by police. As he fell to the ground in the fetal position, a lawsuit claims he was shot 10 more times, causing injury that required multiple treatments.
The investigation includes nine others who were injured, including:
- Justin Howell, a then-20-year-old student at Texas State University who was in intensive care for three weeks due to a brain injury from a beanbag shot to the head.
- Samuel Kirsch, who was shot in the head with a beanbag round that caused multiple surgeries and permanent damage to some vision in his left eye.
- Bomani Ray Barton, a then-23-year-old who was shot in the face with a beanbag round resulting in a fractured jaw.
- Meredith Williams, who was taken to a hospital after being shot in the foot with a beanbag round.
- Nicole Underwood, who underwent surgery after a beanbag round penetrated her chest.
- Anthony Evans, whose jaw was broken due to a beanbag round shot to the face, requiring emergency surgery.
- Christen Warkoczewski, a 30-year-old wildlife biologist who underwent surgery after beanbag shots to the face and ankle.
- Modesto Rodriguez, a deaf man who was with Talley and was taken to the hospital after being shot in the ankle and chest.
- Gemicah Volter-Jones, who underwent emergency surgery after his arm was hit by a bean bag round.
Officers under review include officers Nicholas Gebhart, Jeffrey Teng, Rolan Rast, Kyu An, Joseph Cast, John Siegel, Chance Bretches, Kyle Felton, and Derrick Lehman. Seven officers, including Justin Berry, Alexander Lomostev, Todd Gilbertson, Stanley Vick, Christian Irwin, Jeremy Fisher and Joshua Jackson, are involved in Talley's case. None are part of the department’s management or executive staff.
The news comes after 20 months of relative silence from the hush-hush after-action report, which has been withheld from the public with permission from the Texas Attorney General's office due to a legal exemption that allows the department to shield sensitive information.
The summer of the protests resulted in various changes made by Austin City Council, including the cutting of millions from the police budget and redirecting of those funds. While then-police chief Brian Manley kept his position, though facing public criticism, police cadet classes were put on hold for months as training was reviewed and adjusted—nine months later, Manley abrutly retired. Additionally, other reforms were made, such as a ban on the lead-filled fabric sacks known as bean bag round, tear gas and chokeholds.
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Someday, electric vehicles could go distances fit for road trips across Texas.
Researchers at the University of Texas at Austin, who have previously made strides in the lithium-ion battery industry, have developed a new electrode for such batteries that could draw greater power and allow faster charging.
So far, the research has looked at just a single type of battery electrode and is in its early stages. But it offers exciting potential as some buyers consider driving range an important factor when making the switch to an EV or picking one.
Tesla’s Model Y being produced out of Giga Texas, for example, offers an estimated 330-mile range, which is lower than what many have become accustomed to in gas-powered vehicles.
So UT professor Guihua Yu, along with other researchers, had their findings on battery electrodes published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
“The unprecedented growth of electric vehicles during the past decade has played an indispensable role in paving the way for a carbon-neutral future,” the researchers write.
That’s why it’s key to address a hitch with next-generation batteries, where restacking material can cause “significant bottlenecks” in charge transport, Yu says. Consequently, it can be difficult to achieve high energy and fast charging.
To tackle the sluggish reactions of electrodes, the team used thin two-dimensional materials as the building blocks and stacked them to create thickness. Then, they used a magnetic field to manipulate their orientations and put the materials in vertical alignment. In doing so, researchers essentially made a fast lane for ions to travel through the electrode.
They compared their results to a commercial electrode and a horizontally arranged one for experimental control purposes. In that comparison, they recharged the vertical thick electrode to 50% energy level in 30 minutes. The horizontal electrode took 2 hours and 30 minutes.
Zhengyu Ju, a graduate student in Yu’s research group who is leading this project, said the team’s electrode shows superior electrochemical performance.
In part, that’s “thanks to the unique architecture we designed,” Ju said. It ultimately allowed for high mechanical strength, high electrical conductivity and facilitated lithium-ion transport.
Going forward, the team aims to generalize their methodology of vertically organized electrode layers to apply it to different types of electrodes using other materials. They imagine if this technique becomes more widely adopted in industry, it may create future fast-charging, high-energy batteries to power EVs.
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Camp Fimfo Waco, a brand new camping resort, is kicking off football and fall camping season in style! With top-notch amenities, premium accommodations, and 10 weekends of fall fun, there’s no better place to have a fall camping getaway, especially if you’re a Baylor football fan!
Fall promises to be a one-of-a-kind camping experience. From Sept. 16 to Nov. 24, weekends will be packed with fall-themed activities, including special Halloween weekends in October. Campers can enjoy activities like fall crafts, campground trick-or-treating, costume contests, site decorating, outdoor movie nights, and more!
Packages and Ways to Stay
Camp Fimfo Waco
Located just 5 miles from McLane Stadium, Camp Fimfo Waco is the perfect place to stay during home game weekends. Skip the stuffy hotel room and embrace the great outdoors before cheering on the Baylor Bears! Campers can purchase a Baylor Tailgating Package that includes a pre-game meal from Executive Chef Sean Kelley and transportation to and from the game! Chef Kelley will also be cooking up delicious, elevated tailgating meals near the stadium so make sure to check out The Plaid Plate food truck before the game.
Stay in style and comfort, no matter your camping preference! At Camp Fimfo Waco, there are multiple ways to stay. Red Carpet RV sites come with a concrete pad and patio, full hook-ups, cable hook-up, a charcoal grill, fire ring and fire pit. Back-in or pull-thru options are available, as well as coveted spots tucked along the Bosque River!
Don’t have an RV? Not a problem, Camp Fimfo Waco has cabins too! Book a Riverview Firewheel Cabin if you’re looking for an air-conditioned oasis for the whole family. Complete with a kitchen and private bathroom, this cabin can fit up to 10 people. Elevate your stay by adding on a golf cart or snag a private cabana by the pool for guaranteed shade. With wifi available throughout the park, you can stay connected during your stay!
Amenities and Activities
Camp Fimfo Waco
Camp Fimfo Waco features lots of amenities to fill your days with fun, whether you’re a kid or kid at heart. After challenging your friends to a game of pickleball, basketball, or mini golf, go for a dip in the resort-style, heated pool - open daily through October! Stay on the weekends through October to enjoy the interactive splash playground. With plenty of ways to burn off energy, like the jumping pillow or playground, you can be sure to end the day with a peaceful night around the campfire!
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