San Antonio police will only use crowd dispersal weapons with chief’s direct order

Change follows use of “munitions” on May 30 and Jun. 2 during protests following the death of George Floyd

San Antonio Police Deputy Chief Gus Guzman, left, talks with demonstrators gathered after curfew in San Antonio, Wednesday, June 3, 2020, to protest the death of George Floyd, a black man who was in police custody in Minneapolis. Floyd died after being restrained by Minneapolis police officers on Memorial Day. (AP Photo/Eric Gay) (Eric Gay, Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

San Antonio – Chief William McManus says that going forward, the order for San Antonio Police officers to use crowd dispersal weapons will come only from him.

The announcement came during a city council meeting Wednesday, during which District 4 Councilwoman Rebecca Viagran questioned McManus about the department’s use of “wooden pellets and rubber bullets” during protests over police brutality following the death of George Floyd.

McManus said “munitions” were used to disperse crowds downtown on May 30 and Jun. 2 “because there was property destruction, and officers were being pelted with bottles and bricks.”

However, the chief said after meeting with City Manager Erik Walsh and Deputy City Manager Maria Villagomez on Tuesday and Wednesday that going forward “if - and hopefully we don’t ever have to use them again - but if in fact, they are, then the order to use those weapons - the instruction to use those weapons - has to come from me, directly.”

A police spokesperson clarified after the meeting that the chief was referring to crowd dispersal techniques and munitions, chemical agents, rubber munitions, and wooden munitions.

Mayor Ron Nirenberg, who raised concern over the use of the weapons after journalists were hit on Jun. 2, called it a “welcome change.”

About the Author:

Garrett Brnger is a reporter with KSAT 12.