Editor’s note: A related opinion column about this news story has been published on The Battalion’s opinion page. Opinion columns are not news; instead they offer an informed perspective on what has already been reported. This news story was written entirely by The Battalion’s news staff, and reports the facts of the incident.
Originally reported by The Texas Tribune, a 20-year-old black man is in critical condition at an Austin hospital after being shot with a “less-lethal” ammunition round during a May 31 protest according to Austin Police Chief Brian Manley. The Battalion has confirmed with family that this protester is Justin Howell, the brother of Battalion opinion editor Joshua Howell.
Justin Howell is a graduate of Communication Arts High School in San Antonio and is currently an undergraduate student at Texas State University where he is pursuing a degree in political science.
In a June 1 media briefing, Austin Police Chief Brian Manley said police video shows Justin standing near Austin police headquarters around 11 p.m. when another man throws a water bottle and a backpack at officers guarding the building.
“Within a moment's notice after that, one of the officers fired their less-lethal munition at that individual apparently, but it struck [Justin Howell] instead. [Justin Howell] then fell to the ground and it appears as though he hit his head when he fell to the ground as well,” Manley said.
Manley said after Justin Howell was shot, a group of people realized the severity of his injuries, spoke with officers about getting medical attention and were then instructed to bring him to officers at police headquarters. According to The Texas Tribune, video shows multiple people carrying Justin Howell toward officers on the steps of police headquarters and then being shot at as well. Manley said this incident is under review.
“[Justin Howell] was brought through police headquarters and loaded on an ambulance and transported to a local hospital,” Manley said. “We immediately began a level one investigation into this incident last night, sending investigators to the hospital and again this investigation remains ongoing.”
Manley has asked the public to provide video from the incident to help with the internal police investigation.
Justin Howell currently remains in critical condition at an Austin hospital. The family has asked for privacy at this time.