In Austin, an officer was being charged in an excessive force case that began in January 2021. It was recently announced that Travis County prosecutors were no longer proceeding with the case.
District Attorney Jose Garza charged Officer Gregory Gentry and officer Chance Bretches. Garza had run on a “police accountability” platform that likely got him elected.
According to Austin American Statesman, both officers were charged with “aggravated assault by a public servant.” However, Garza dropped the charges against Gentry.
“Upon review, we have decided that a dismissal of the indictment is the appropriate action to take in this case and best serves the interest of justice. I offer my sincere apologies to Officer Gentry who undoubtedly suffered as a result of this process.”Jose Garza
It was discovered that one of the assistant district attorneys had consulted with an expert on the use of force in the case. The expert had told the assistant D.A. that the level of force Gentry used was lawful.
The prosecutor did not disclose this expert’s opinion to the defense nor his colleagues. This case was Garza’s first go with holding officers accountable for their actions.
Incident In Question
The incident happened over two years ago. At the time, both of the officers were a part of a narcotics detail.
According to Austin Police Chief Brian Manley, the two officers had attempted to arrest a suspect, and that suspect resisted. A struggle broke out between the officers and the suspect.
Manley said, “A significant struggle ensued as the officers attempted to overcome the suspect’s resistance, resulting in injuries to both the suspect and the officers.”
When the Austin Police Department Executive Team did the incident review, the Special Investigations Unit, and the Force Review Board, the actions of the officers were “deemed compliant with policy and training.”
The D.A. at the time looked over the results of the review, and Margaret Moore did not move the case forward. According to KXAN, when Garza became D.A., the opinion changed.
He decided that the case did need to be tried in front of a Grand Jury. Garza did say that the assistant D.A. is no longer with the office.
Garza unfairly went after two officers who were doing their jobs to fulfill a campaign promise. Something that turned out to be an embarrassing step in his term as D.A.