UT Austin professor loses job, faces criminal charge after arrest at protest

AUSTIN, Texas - A college professor is facing a criminal charge and looking for a new job. The University of Texas fired him after he was arrested in connection to a pro-Palestine protest on campus last week.

"He was fired, yes," Gerry Morris, attorney representing Richard Heyman said.

57-year-old Richard Heyman worked at the University of Texas for almost 18 years and most recently was a lecturer who taught courses in the College of Liberal Arts, American Studies department.

<div>Richard Heyman</div>
Richard Heyman

"I certainly think they should have investigated what happened before taking some sort of action," Morris said.

Heyman was arrested after Texas DPS said he interfered with public duties at a pro-Palestine protest on the UT campus last week.

"This incident was videotaped by a bystander, and the bystander got in touch with us and gave us the video, and it shows a bit of a different scenario than what’s set out in the arrest affidavit," Morris said.

Texas DPS claimed Heyman yelled expletives in their faces.

"Mr. Heyman was, no doubt, he was yelling at the police, but the police officer initiated the physical contact," Morris said.

A trooper said Heyman tried to break through a temporary fence troopers made with bicycles, put his fingers in a trooper’s face, acted like he was going to swing a water bottle at him, grabbed a bike, tried to pull it away, and broke the bike bell.

"Mr. Heyman was pushed, he stumbled backwards and grabbed the handlebars of the bicycle as he was falling backwards," Morris said.

It wasn’t until this week that Heyman was arrested.

"There’s so much political pressure on them, if they hadn’t taken some action, I’m sure the governor’s office would have been issuing statements criticizing them and other state officials," Morris said.


Morris said these charges should be dropped.

"If this case did not have the political implications that it does, if it was not something that had happened in the middle of a politically charged environment, I don’t think it would go forward another day. It’s just going to depend on getting to the decision maker that has the courage to look at the facts and judge the case based on those facts," Morris said.

Heyman’s attorney didn’t provide FOX 7 with the video. He said he won’t until the case is over. Heyman’s first court date is May 29, 2024.

A spokesperson for UT Austin said the university does not comment on personnel matters.