Why did Austin police let Ivan Hunter go?

The magazines found in Ivan Harrison Hunter’s car.

In late October, federal agents arrested Ivan Harrison Hunter on charges related to his participation in the destruction of a police precinct in Minneapolis during the initial George Floyd protests. He is accused of firing 13 rounds from an AK-47 into the building. Hunter was not a Black Lives Matter supporter or even a mere looter. He was a member of the far-right Boogaloo Bois, a loose affiliation of extremists seeking to provoke a civil war. 

A few days later, Hunter, who lives in Boerne, Tex., was in Austin for the protests here. According to a federal affidavit, he was pulled over for “numerous traffic violations” at 2 a.m. on June 3 near the site of protests downtown. From the affidavit

During the ensuing traffic stop, officers observed a baggie of suspected marijuana in plain view. HUNTER – the front seat passenger – claimed ownership of the marijuana. Officers saw that HUNTER had six loaded magazines for an AK-47 style assault rifle affixed to his tactical vest while the two other men had AR-15 magazines affixed to their vests. Officers found an AK-47 style rifle and two AR-15 rifles on the rear seat of the vehicle plus one pistol in plain view next to the driver’s seat and another pistol in the center console….

…HUNTER denied owning any of the weapons found in the vehicle but volunteered to APD officers that he was the leader of the Boogaloo Bois in South Texas and that he was present in Minneapolis when the Third Precinct was set on fire. After the marijuana, weapons, and ammunition were seized by APD, HUNTER and the two other men were released from the scene.

So the good news is that APD appears to be following Council’s guidance to not enforce marijuana laws. The bad news is that APD is not offering any explanation for why Hunter’s weapons were confiscated but his person was not. If the weapons weren’t illegal, why were they seized? And if they were illegal, why wasn’t he charged with an offense? Or was he charged but simply not detained? 

I have reached out to APD with questions about this and was told I need to talk to the FBI about it. But why? Even if the criminal charges against Hunter are the FBI’s domain, why wouldn’t APD answer questions about its interaction with the suspect? 

In a letter he sent to APD several days before the election asking for the department’s plans on potential post-election unrest, CM Greg Casar and three other Council members asked for an explanation of why Hunter was released. They also asked for a response to allegations that APD officers refused to intervene when Women’s March demonstrators on Oct. 17 were attacked by far-right activists. On Election Day, Chief Brian Manley offered this terse response

APD has closely examined the June 3, 2020 and October 17, 2020 incidents referenced in your letter. Our review shows that the officers involved abided by all applicable policies, did not exhibit selective enforcement, nor did they show favorable treatment of individuals.

I asked Casar for a response. He said: “There are Office of Police Oversight complaints filed, and I think Chief Manley and OPO need to review this before coming to a conclusion.” 

Interestingly this case, which I admit I likely overlooked due to my preoccupation with the election, hasn’t gotten much local media coverage. We’ll see how this progresses.

The FBI affidavit also claims that Hunter was in regular communication with Steven Carrillo, a fellow Boogaloo who has been charged with the May 29 killing of a contract Federal Protective Service officer in Oakland, Calif. and the June 6 killing of a Sheriff Deputy in Santa Cruz, Calif. Four hours after the killing of the FPS officer, Carrillo allegedly exchanged Facebook messages with Hunter:

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