HOUSTON – The Harris County District Attorney dismissed nearly 800 cases against protesters who were arrested during marches against police brutality in the past three weeks.
DA Kim Ogg announced that prosecutors dismissed 796 cases after conducting a review that divided the cases into two groups — those who sought to do harm to others and property and those arrested for simple civil disobedience. Ogg’s office said they began filing motions to dismiss before sunrise Tuesday.
The cases dismissed were for non-violent misdemeanor offenses, mostly obstructing a highway and trespassing.
“The job of the prosecutor is to seek individualized justice in every case,” Ogg said in a press release. “While probable cause existed for the arrests of those people who refused to disperse after being ordered to do so by police, our young prosecutors worked hard to identify the few offenders who came to inflict harm on others and intentional damage to property.”
“The result of their case-by-case review is astounding,” Ogg said.
Only 51 adults and one juvenile now remain charged with active cases, which include 35 misdemeanor charges and 19 felony charges. Those charges range from weapons offenses to aggravated assault of a peace officer.
“With so many professionals wanting to contribute, I am confident that the criminal defense bar will volunteer their services to clean up the criminal records of all involved,” Ogg said.
She said by dismissing the charges, it will allow law enforcement authorities to focus resources on those who endanger public safety.
“We will always protect the First Amendment rights of peaceful protestors,” Ogg said. “The only people I will be prosecuting are those who intentionally hurt others and intentionally destroy property.”