One of District Attorney Margaret Moore’s first initiatives implemented upon taking office in 2017 was the creation of a Civil Rights Unit. To address community concerns that cases involving the use of unlawful force by police officers were often overlooked and handled behind closed doors, DA Moore established a specialized unit to promote transparency and fairness. The Civil Rights Unit is the only unit in the Office that reports directly to the District Attorney.

One of the primary functions of the CRU is responding to the scene of all officer-involved shootings that occur in Travis County on a 24-hour basis, seven days a week. District Attorney Margaret Moore personally responds to every officer-involved shooting along with members of the CRU and attends the police department briefings that occur on a regular basis following an officer-involved shooting.

When the CRU was formed, it implemented several innovative policy changes designed to increase its effectiveness as a prosecutorial unit in the investigation, and where appropriate, prosecution of officer involved lethal and non-lethal uses of force. Some of these are outlined below.

Our Work

The Civil Rights Unit is responsible for the investigation and prosecution of allegations of criminal conduct involving a public servant’s injury or harm to an individual, alleged to have been committed while the public servant was in the discharge of his or her duties. Incidents involving an officer’s use of deadly force (shooting or non-shooting), use of non-deadly force, deaths while in custody, or sexual misconduct or assault.

In addition to an Assistant District Attorney who is its Director, the Civil Rights Unit currently has two full-time Assistant District Attorneys assigned to it, one paralegal, and a full-time investigator.

The Civil Rights Unit investigates each incident involving a law enforcement officer’s use of deadly force, irrespective of whether the subject against whom the force was used survives, to determine whether the use of force complied with Texas law governing the use of deadly force. If a determination is made that a use of deadly force was not reasonable under governing Texas law, the Civil Rights Unit will present the case to a special grand jury for possible indictment. In other cases other than an officer involved shooting or resulting in death (for example, an in custody death), when the facts and circumstances warrant it, such cases may be presented to a grand jury for investigation and possible indictment.

In 2017, the Civil Rights Unit (“CRU”) took the innovative step of empanelling a special grand jury to only review allegations of criminal conduct alleged to have been committed by a public servant during the discharge of his or her official duties. These allegations involve officer-involved shootings, non-deadly use of force cases, and other instances alleged official misconduct.  The idea of tasking a special grand jury with only hearing these types of cases originated when District Attorney Margaret Moore took office and noticed a backlog of cases awaiting presentation to grand juries. Moore decided, due to the complexity and unique fact situations involved with lethal and non-lethal use of force cases, that empanelling a special grand jury would be more efficient and would allow more training and education for grand jurors on the multitude of issues involved with these cases.

Within the first year of its formation, the CRU drafted, adopted and published its standard operating procedures and policies which govern its Scope of Work and day to day operations. The CRU’s standard operating procedures and policies are accessible for public inspection and are updated when revised or supplemented.

Prosecutors from the CRU regularly meet with the family members of those individuals who have died as a result of an officer involved shooting when a case has been declined for prosecution to assist them in understanding the legal complexities of these cases and to help answer their questions about the facts surrounding the incident.

Declination Letters and Pending Officer-Involved Shooting Review

In each case involving an officer-involved shooting, the CRU’s primary responsibility is to review each such incident and determine whether prosecution is warranted under ethical and legal standards governing the filing of criminal charges. If the CRU determines that criminal charges are not warranted and that the case will not be presented to a grand jury, it will issue a comprehensive declination letter in as timely a fashion as the investigation permits. The declination letters state the CRU’s decision and details the factual, forensic, and legal issues that formed the basis for the decision. Prior to the establishment of the CRU, family members were often left with unanswered questions about events leading up to a fatal incident involving their relative and the reasons a case might not meet the legal standard for prosecution. The CRU publishes each of its declination letters and posts them on its website for public inspection.

Request a press packet.

Declination Letters (By date and Decedent’s Name)

Pending Officer-Involved Shooting Reviews/Investigations

See list of pending officer-involved shooting investigations.

Annual Statistics

Each year the Civil Rights Unit publishes its annual statistics covering the matters it has reviewed, investigated and prosecuted for publication in the Travis County District Attorney’s Annual Report. These statistics include the number of incidents reviewed, investigated and prosecuted; the number of matters presented to the grand jury for review; and the number of cases resolved by declination, presentation to a grand jury, prosecution, or agreement with a subject officer.

2018-2019 Civil Rights Unit Statistics

Civil Rights Advisory Council

In an effort to provide transparency and information to the community about the work of the CRU, District Attorney Margaret Moore assembled a Civil Rights Advisory Committee composed of various community leaders. The Committee meets several times a year and is given an overview of the cases reviewed by the CRU and provides an opportunity for discussion and feedback on the work being done by the CRU. As of 2019, the Committee comprised of approximately 29 members who volunteer their time to attend regular meetings and provide feedback to the Unit. In the coming years, District Attorney Margaret Moore hopes to expand the membership of the Committee to include additional members of the public serving on a rotating basis.

  • Annette Lovoi
  • Bill Aleshire
  • Dan Richards
  • Geronimo Rodriguez
  • Kazique Prince
  • Latreese Cooke
  • Matt Simpson
  • Nelson Linder
  • Rebecca Lightsey
  • Rossana Barrios
  • Trey Salinas
  • Arnold Garcia
  • Brian McGiverin
  • Cynthia Valadez
  • Farah Muscadin
  • Glen Maxey
  • Lara Wendler
  • Linda Chavez
  • Rev. G.V. Clark
  • Simone T. Flowers
  • Zahra Jamal
  • Ashton Cumberbatch
  • Chas Moore
  • Gary Bledsoe
  • Gordon Rubinett
  • Martha Smiley
  • Meme Styles
  • Paul Quinzi
  • Rev. Joe Parker
  • Teresa Perez-Wiseley
  • Terra Tucker

Private Inquiries

If you believe that a public servant has committed an offense violating Texas law against you involving injury or harm to you while that person was serving in his or her capacity as a public servant, we ask that you first contact the agency for whom the public servant is employed and make your inquiry or complaint with that agency. If you believe that contacting the agency directly is not feasible, you may contact the Civil Rights Unit and inform us of the general circumstances of your inquiry/complaint so that we may further advise you of how to proceed. See also, “How do I file a complaint?” below, under “Frequently Asked Questions."

Download Use of Force Private Complaint Form

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

The Travis County District Attorney has a formal means by which you may request documents or records that are made available to public inspection under the Texas Public Information Act. The Civil Rights Unit is not the appropriate unit to which a direct, open records request should be made. Please email [email protected] with your records request.

Although the Civil Rights Unit strives to resolve each matter referred to it for review/investigation in as expeditious a manner as possible consistent with the integrity of investigative and review process, due to the complexity and variety of circumstances in each individual case, it is difficult to provide a reliable estimate of the time it will take to complete a review or investigation. This is particularly true in the case of officer-involved shooting incidents. In general, however, in officer-involved shooting incidents the Civil Rights Unit seeks to have such cases resolved by either a formal decision to decline prosecution or presentation to a grand jury within 60 to 90 days of the completion of a law enforcement agency’s initial investigation of the matter it has referred to the unit.

The Civil Rights Unit scope of work involves is restricted to allegations of criminal conduct. The Civil Rights Unit does not handle administrative or civil matters arising out of allegations of public servant misconduct or use of force. In such cases, the Civil Rights Unit recommends that you contact the Lawyer Referral Service or Legal Aid for assistance in identifying a lawyer to help you with your complaint.

In most cases, the Civil Rights Unit asks that a complaint against a law enforcement officer or public servant be first filed with the agency’s department responsible for investigating such complaints. Once the matter has been reviewed by the law enforcement, the Civil Rights Unit may review or investigate the matter. In exceptional circumstances, the Civil Rights Unit may determine that a private complaint be filed directly with it. Larger law enforcement agencies typically have a unit dedicated to the investigation of complaints of criminal conduct regarding officers. The Austin Police Department’s Special Investigations Unit handles such matters for the Austin Police Department. You may obtain more information concerning the unit at austintexas.gov.

Helpful Resources

Contact the Civil Rights Unit

You may contact the Civil Rights Unit at 512-854-1759 or by e-mail at [email protected].

TAX RATE: TRAVIS COUNTY ADOPTED A TAX RATE THAT WILL RAISE MORE TAXES FOR MAINTENANCE AND OPERATIONS THAN LAST YEAR'S TAX RATE. THE TAX RATE WILL EFFECTIVELY BE RAISED BY 3.6 PERCENT AND WILL RAISE TAXES FOR MAINTENANCE AND OPERATIONS ON A $100,000 HOME BY APPROXIMATELY $11.00.
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