City Hall

Three North Texas Police Officers Indicted Over George Floyd Protests in Summer 2020

An after-action report on three tense days of Dallas protests in the summer of 2020 found some errors by cops, but laid a lot of blame on "rioters."
An after-action report on three tense days of Dallas protests in the summer of 2020 found some errors by cops, but laid a lot of blame on "rioters." Melissa Hennings
Two Dallas Police officers and a Garland police officer were indicted by a grand jury for allegedly assaulting demonstrators during the summer 2020 protests.

The news was first reported by WFAA around noon Friday and confirmed by the Dallas County District Attorney’s Office later that afternoon.

“After nearly two years of investigation, Dallas County District Attorney John Creuzot announces a Dallas County Grand Jury has returned indictments on multiple police officers charged in connection to the Summer 2020 Protests in Downtown Dallas in the wake of the death of George Floyd,” the DA’s office said in an emailed statement.

Creuzot’s office presented the cases to the grand jury on May 4. At the end of his statement, Creuzot said, “It is important to remember that all parties are entitled to the presumption of innocence.”

The two Dallas officers were Sr. Cpl. Melvin Williams and Sr. Cpl. Ryan Mabry. They both belonged to DPD’s SWAT. They were first handed the protest charges in February. Joe Privitt was the Garland officer.

The Dallas officers faced a handful of charges stemming from protests sparked by the killing of George Floyd by a white Minneapolis police officer. Privitt was indicted on one charge of aggravated assault by a public servant.

Mabry was indicted Friday on six charges of aggravated assault by a public servant and two deadly conduct charges.

Meanwhile, Williams, who was fired this year for his use of force during another incident last summer, was indicted on four charges of aggravated assault by a public servant. He was also indicted on two charges of deadly conduct. Williams was fired from the department in late January after a video circulated showing him punch a man in the head several times while trying to break up a street fight in Deep Ellum.

The two Dallas officers find themselves indicted largely over their use of so-called less-lethal ammunition on protesters. Mabry allegedly shot one protester named David McKee in the right bicep, his thigh and his left testicle. Court documents say the injury to McKee’s testicle required surgery. Mabry also allegedly fired the round that hit Brandon Saenz in the face, requiring his left eye to be surgically removed. 

“The negative light that has been shown on our department today is difficult for the brave men and women who protect our city day in and day out." – Dallas Police Chief Eddie Garcia

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Saenz was shot on May 30, 2020. Mabry is now on administrative leave.

Both Mabry and Williams each also face three counts of official oppression, which was announced when they were charged in February.

Dallas Police Chief Eddie Garcia addressed the indictments during a press conference Friday.

“The negative light that has been shown on our department today is difficult for the brave men and women who protect our city day in and day out,” Garcia said. “The message to the community today should be: in light of these protests, riots and looting, that there were hundreds of officers that were professional and did their duty to defend this city.”

Garcia added: “If the actions of that day rose to criminal intent, that is for a jury to decide at this point. I hope those individuals who will judge those officers do so through a lens of what all of our officers experienced while protecting Dallas in one of the most chaotic times in its history.”

The Garland Police Department took a different approach to the indictment of its officer. Jeff Bryan, Garland police chief, first reminded attendees of a press conference late Friday afternoon that the case against Privitt is still working its way through court.

“Out of respect for the criminal justice system, I have a prepared statement, but I’m not going to be answering questions,” Bryan said. Behind Bryan stood a long line of uniformed officers who, he said, wanted to be there while he read his statement.

“I’m astonished and disappointed to learn that Officer Privitt of the Garland Police Department was indicted by a Dallas County grand jury this week related to actions he took in assisting the Dallas Police Department during riots that occurred in Dallas almost two years ago,” Bryan said.

"On May 30, 2020, officers of the Garland Police Department, including Officer Privitt, responded to downtown Dallas at the urgent request of the Dallas Police Department after earlier protests that afternoon had deteriorated to rioting during the later hours," he added.

He said he authorized his officers to help DPD to help prevent the loss of life and property “threatened by the riots.” Bryan said his officers were put into a “rapidly evolving, chaotic and dangerous situation.”

Bryan said protesters set fires, brandished firearms and threw objects at officers. “In response, officers attempting to stop the rioting were often required to make split-second decisions under the most dangerous of circumstances to protect their lives, and the lives and property of the citizens of Dallas, often placing themselves in harm’s way while doing so,” Bryan said.

He said Privitt is a highly decorated officer who’s been with the department for over three decades without any disciplinary marks. “I have not seen evidence against Officer Privitt that rises to the level of the criminal conduct that has been alleged by the grand jury,” he said. Privitt will be on placed on “administrative duties” until this is resolved.
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Jacob Vaughn, a former Brookhaven College journalism student, has written for the Observer since 2018, first as clubs editor. More recently, he's been in the news section as a staff writer covering City Hall, the Dallas Police Department and whatever else editors throw his way.
Contact: Jacob Vaughn