San Antonio College Student in Critical Condition After Injury by Austin Police at Protest

click to enlarge Justin Elliott Howell - SCREEN CAPTURE / GOFUNDME
Screen Capture / GoFundMe
Justin Elliott Howell
A college newspaper editorial has identified a Black student critically injured Sunday during a protest outside Austin's police headquarters as 20-year-old Justin Elliott Howell of San Antonio.

Howell is in critical condition after suffering a fractured skull and brain damage, his brother Joshua Howell wrote in an op-ed posted on the website of The Battalion, Texas A&M University's student newspaper. The political science student at Texas State University was struck by so-called "less-lethal ammunition" fired by Austin police.

"[I]f you really want to know what happened, there is no substitute for the raw, unedited video," Joshua Howell writes in the piece. "In it, you will see five people carrying Justin’s limp body toward police headquarters, begging the officers to get him medical attention. As they do, the police fire some 15 rounds (many of which were at the protesters carrying my brother) over the course of about 30 seconds."

During a Monday media briefing, Austin Police Chief Brian Manley said an officer fired a projectile at someone who hurled two objects at police during the nighttime protest but struck the 20-year-old student instead.

Manley didn't identify the shooting victim by name.

Police in other Texas cities, including San Antonio, have fired less-lethal ammo into groups of demonstrators since widespread protests began over the death of George Floyd. Video of a confrontation between SAPD officers and demonstrators on Tuesday night shows cops blasting protesters with wooden rounds as an organizer turns his back and instructs the crowd to raise their hands and remain peaceful. 

During Monday's briefing, Manley said police are conducting an investigation into the incident outside Austin police headquarters.

“We are praying for this young man and his family, and we’re hoping that his condition improves quickly,” he said.

However, in his op-ed, Joshua Howell said the chief's promise of prayers don't sit well as his family grieves for his brother, who faces a lengthy recovery once he finally regains consciousness. A GoFundMe account set up to aid the family has so far raised $113,000.

"We are interested in you appropriately using the responsibilities with which the people of Austin have entrusted you," Joshua Howell wrote, addressing Manley. "Prayer is not an excuse to abdicate responsibility."

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