Austin, Texas Former Prosecutors Defend Eight Austin Police Officers Relating to Protests and Use of Force

Posted by Jason EnglishJun 28, 20220 Comments

AUSTIN, Texas – Criminal defense attorneys Jason S. English and Laurie Drymalla release a statement on behalf of Austin, Texas Police Officers John Siegel, Alexander Lomostev, Derrick Lehman, Todd Gilbertson, Jeremy Fisher, Kyle Felton, Joseph Cast, and Kyu An, who were indicted by an Austin grand jury for use-of-force incidents during the Austin 2020 protests.

On February 17, 2022, Travis County District Attorney José Garza announced the indictment of 19 Austin Police Department (APD) officers for Aggravated Assault by a Public Servant, which are First Degree Felonies punishable by 5-99 years in prison or life in prison, as well as a fine of up to $10,000. While their cases are pending, the officers are on paid administrative leave.

The indictments against the 19 officers relate to the racial injustice protests spurred by the summer of 2020 deaths of George Floyd and Mike Ramos. All officers were charged with two counts of aggravated assault by a public servant. According to the indictments, the officers harmed 10 people during the chaos of the protests.

“My co-counsel Laurie Drymalla and I represent eight Austin police officers who responded to the summer of 2020 protests to protect citizens, the city, peaceful protestors, and officers from violent and dangerous conduct. In these cases, the use of bean bag rounds has become the focal point. These less lethal weapons are specifically designed and used to incapacitate people while causing the least amount of harm. We understand, however, that the bean bag rounds provided to our clients were unknowingly defective. We've heard that they were out of date and that the rounds didn't perform as they should have.

Simply put, these rounds were not intended to inflict serious bodily harm or death. However, we've seen injuries that were not what you'd expect. While we recognize that unintentional injuries during demonstrations are tragic, we believe that our clients' actions were reasonable under the facts and justified under the law,” says English.

“The use of a shotgun and bean bags is a widely-used tactic throughout the country, and it is both legal and permissible under Austin's policy. Bean Bag rounds are a type of impact projectile used to induce compliance through the infliction of localized pain, much like a baton strike or punch would. Because it can be used over a greater distance than a baton or nightstick, it is a superior alternative. According to statistics, subjects are rarely rendered unconscious following a single round, and the majority require multiple rounds. The rounds are designed specifically to deal with crowd control situations during a riot. We look forward to proving the facts of the case when our clients get their day in court,” said Drymalla.

After the protests, the APD stopped using less lethal rounds in crowd situations, according to Austin Police Department Chief Joseph Chacon. News of the statement by English and Drymalla was also covered in a KXAN (the Austin, Texas NBC affiliate) article.

About Jason S. English Law, PLLC

Though the founder of Jason S. English Law, PLLC, now works as a criminal defense attorney, he is also a former prosecutor with over 15 years of experience prosecuting the same crimes for which his clients are now facing charges. Before founding Jason S. English Law, PLLC, English worked as an Assistant District Attorney in Cameron, Hays, and Travis Counties, representing the state of Texas from 2002 to 2017. English handled drug cases, assault cases, and DWIs in addition to violent crimes. English was assigned to the Public Integrity Unit for many years, where he prosecuted White Collar Fraud, Corruption, and Public Officials. English served as the only Assistant District Attorney on-site advising the Austin Police Department for more than seven years.

English also served as the Felony Prosecutor for the Mental Health and Veterans Court dockets, where he was in charge of all cases. English comprehends the impact of mental illness on crime and punishment and assists clients in obtaining the best possible resolution of their cases by drawing on his extensive experience and well-established reputation in the legal community.

Our practice includes a variety of areas, including assisting good people facing criminal and drunk driving charges, as well as representing victims of serious accidents who deserve to be fairly compensated for their injuries. We also understand the importance of planning for your family's future after you pass away, so we devote a portion of our practice to creating and probating wills. We also handle divorce, real estate, and other matters. We spend a lot of time in Bastrop, Hays, and Williamson Counties, even though our office is in Austin, Travis County, Texas. Just don't be surprised if we return to Tarrant County or other beautiful parts of Texas.

Please call us at (512) 454-7548 if you have any questions. We can probably point you in the right direction and make a referral for you to consider if you require assistance outside of our practice.

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About the Law Office of Laurie Drymalla, PLLC

Laurie Drymalla has over 20 years of prosecutorial experience with the Travis County District Attorney's (TCDA) Office. She was the chief of two major units at the TCDA's Office: Chief of the 167th District Court for three years and Chief of the Critical Incident Unit for four years. Her background includes investigating and prosecuting homicides, intoxication offenses, sexual offenses, white-collar crimes, police officer use-of-force cases, police misconduct, and officer-involved shootings, among other serious violent felony offenses.

During her seven years with the Critical Incident Unit (renamed the Civil Rights Unit in 2017), she assisted law enforcement in drafting search warrants, making charging decisions, and directing the collection of relevant evidence at scenes of officer-involved shootings. Drymalla prepared the case for the grand jury after investigating each case. Experts, police officers, and ordinary citizens were all prepared for their testimony before the grand jury as part of this preparation. She remained the prosecutor assigned to the case upon indictment. The officer's case was moved to federal court in one instance, and Drymalla remained on the team.

Drymalla left the TCDA's office in 2021 and is now using her criminal justice experience to assist those accused of a crime, needing assistance navigating the criminal justice system, consulting on a criminal case, or preparing for testimony in front of a grand jury or court.