(NEW YORK) — A Dallas police officer and his former colleague who was recently fired are expected to surrender to face criminal charges alleging they used excessive force at a 2020 protest over the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minnesota police.
Arrest warrants were issued on Wednesday for Senior Cpl. Ryan Mabry and former Senior Cpl. Melvin Williams after the Dallas County District Attorney charged them with multiple counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and official oppression.
Mabry and Williams, who was terminated last month on unrelated charges of violating police department policy, were expected to surrender to the Dallas County Sheriff’s Department as early as Thursday.
The arrest warrants were issued following an investigation launched by the district attorney’s office to identify officers caught on video firing pepper balls and other less-lethal projectiles at protesters in downtown Dallas on May 30, 2020. One protester lost an eye when he was hit in the face by one of the projectiles, authorities said.
On Jan. 5, the district attorney’s office made public photos of protesters who were hit by the less-lethal ammunition fired by police, asking them to come forward. In an effort to identify the offending officers, video was also released of Dallas police officers dressed in riot gear firing projectiles at protesters.
Vincent Doyle told ABC affiliate station WFAA-TV in Dallas that he was at the protest recording video as he retreated from a line of police officers ordering demonstrators to disperse when he was shot in the face by what he suspects was a less-lethal “sponge round.”
“I remember seeing his laser and I remember ducking his laser, and I was like, ‘Are you trying to shoot at me?’ “And then all of a sudden it was just, Boom!” Doyle, a 21-year-old amateur photographer told WFAA-TV.
Doyle said he suffered a broken cheekbone and two large cuts under his left eye, limiting his vision.
Another protester, 25-year-old Brandon Saenz, was hit in his left eye also by a sponge round and had to have the eye surgically removed, according to WFAA.
In June 2020, a judge granted a temporary restraining order banning Dallas police from using less-lethal weapons to control crowds.
Mabry joined the force in January 2010 and is assigned to the department’s Tactical Operations Division, the Dallas Police Department said in a statement posted on its Facebook page Wednesday. He has been placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of an internal affairs investigation, according to the statement.
Williams was fired from the department on Jan. 25 following an internal investigation that found he violated the department’s use of force policy in a separate incident, according to the statement.
Williams’ attorney, Robert L. Rogers, said Williams and his fellow SWAT team members were only called into action “once the protests had turned into violent riots.”
“His options were simple: do nothing, allow downtown to burn and his fellow officers to get injured or use the tools that he was provided and called on to use by his command staff to suppress the ongoing riots,” Rogers said in a text message to ABC News Thursday afternoon. “He obviously chose the latter and now faces absurd criminal charges for lawfully targeting individuals that were clearly agitators.”
ABC News has reached out to Mabry’s attorney but has received no immediate comment.
In the aftermath of the protests, the Dallas Police Department released an 85-page “after-action report” that analyzed the police response to the demonstrations that occurred between May 29 to June 1, 2020. The report detailed “errors, miscalculations and shortcomings” of the police response. The report also faulted violent protesters for escalating tension.
“Tensions escalated quickly and the men and women of the Dallas Police Department overcame significant challenges and violence directed towards them in order to ensure the safety of event participants, uninvolved bystanders and themselves,” the report said.
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