A grand jury on Friday indicted two Dallas police officers and one from Garland on multiple felony aggravated assault charges for wounding protesters with “less-lethal” ammunition during protests in the wake of George Floyd’s murder.
Former Sr. Cpl. Melvin Williams and suspended Sr. Cpl. Ryan Mabry were indicted on all the felony charges brought by Dallas County District Attorney John Creuzot, court records show. Mabry faces six counts of aggravated assault by a public servant while Williams was indicted on four counts. Both Mabry and Williams were also indicted on two counts of deadly conduct. Each officer had also been charged with three counts of misdemeanor official oppression, which do not require a grand jury to weigh in. Garland Officer Joe Privitt was only indicted on the single felony of aggravated assault by a public servant.
D Magazine confirmed the true-bill indictments from Dallas County’s monthly grand jury disposition report. Claire Crouch, a spokeswoman for the DA, announced the indictments about an hour after this report was published.
Williams was fired in 2021 for violating the department’s use of force policy, after he was caught on camera punching a man in the head while breaking up a fight. Mabry has been on administrative leave since February, when the DA filed the charges.
In February, the DA’s office detailed the charges. Mabry is accused of shooting protester Brandon Saenz in the face with “less-lethal” munitions as he protested on Elm Street. Saenz lost an eye and seven teeth in the attack; his face was also fractured. The arrest affidavits show Mabry was charged with shooting two other people: David McKee and another unknown individual. The deadly conduct charges were related to the assaults of Saenz and McKee.
Williams is accused of firing “less-lethal” munitions at a few protesters: McKee, who was hit on May 30 in the 900 block of Elm Street; another unknown individual in the 400 block of S. Ervay on May 30; Vincent Doyle, who was shot at in the intersection of Pacific Avenue and Griffin Street on May 30; and Jesus Ramiro Lule, who was fired upon in Deep Ellum on July 18. Doyle told the Dallas Morning News that he lost 40 percent of his vision in his left eye after Williams shot him with the “less-lethal” munitions. The deadly conduct charges were related to McKee and an individual “whose name and identity is unknown to the grand jurors.”
Creuzot spent months asking the public and the media to submit videos or photographs from the protests to help identify the officers who fired upon these protesters. His office filed charges in February and announced it would present the cases to a grand jury.
The Dallas Police Association, the largest officer union in the city, called a press conference the next day and declared the charges to be a “political football.” DPA President Mike Mata argued that the charges were only filed because of the upcoming primary election and that they went too far. “I’m not saying no action should have been taken,” Mata said. “I’m saying the appropriate action should have been taken.”
Mata decried the lack of charges for protesters who he said threw rocks and bottles and destroyed property those first weekends. At one point during that press conference, DPA Vice President and Collin County state representative hopeful Frederick Frazier took out a rock and tossed it in front of reporters for dramatic effect.
Saenz contended that he was not involved in any violence. He was injured on the afternoon of May 30, when the protests were peaceful and snaking through downtown. He said in a press conference after being released from the hospital that he was looking for a friend near the J. Erik Jonsson Public Library when he saw a line of police, according to a News report. Soon after, he was hit in the face with the “less-lethal” ammunition. Other protesters found a wooden round near Saenz after police left the scene.
Attorneys for both officers contended that their clients were responding to violence; a grand jury clearly disagreed.
Bethany Erickson contributed to this report.