Justin Howell, a 20-year-old political science student at Texas State, was critically injured after being shot with “less-lethal munition” by a police officer during a protest in Austin, Texas, on May 31. Howell is currently hospitalized and in critical condition after suffering a fractured skull, as well as brain damage, according to his older brother Joshua Howell.
On June 3, Joshua published a piece about Justin on The Battalion. In it, he shared a video of Justin being carried by five people after he was injured. The video also shows the individuals being fired upon by police officers using bean bag rounds. Here is the video:
— David Frost (@DavidFr31601156) June 1, 2020
The video was recorded by another protestor, David Frost. According to Joshua, he spoke with Frost and he said that although some “protesters were throwing rocks, water bottles, and a backpack,” at officers, Justin was not. Frost also showed Joshua a photo of Justin’s body “splayed upon the ground.”
In the article, Joshua said that Justin wouldn’t “be improving quickly” and that one of his brother’s doctors said, ‘“It will be a marathon, not a sprint.’” Doctors also told Joshua that “when [Justin] wakes up, he will have difficulty telling his left from his right.”
Police Responded to the Incident Saying That They Shot the Wrong Person
Justin was standing near police headquarters around 11:00 p.m. when another protestor threw a water bottle and backpack at officers guarding the building.
Police Chief Brian Manley said during a Monday media briefing that the incident was captured on a Halo camera. He said, “One of the officers fired their less-lethal munition at that individual, apparently, but it struck this victim instead. And this victim then fell to the ground, and it appears as though he hit his head when he fell to the ground as well.”
Manley confirmed during the briefing that officers were using bean bag rounds that night. Rubber bullets were also used during the Austin protests last weekend, the Texas Tribune reported.
After Justin was shot, nearby protestors spoke with officers about getting the victim medical treatment, Manley said. They were directed to take Justin toward police, but as they approached the headquarters, they were fired at, which was shown in Frost’s video. Justin was finally brought through to police headquarters when he was taken by ambulance to the hospital. Manley said that an investigation into the incident was ongoing.
Manley said, “We are praying for this young man and his family, and we’re hoping that his condition improves quickly.”
In his article on The Battalion, Joshua wrote: “We aren’t interested in your prayers. We are interested in you appropriately using the responsibilities with which the people of Austin have entrusted you. Prayer is not an excuse to abdicate responsibility.”
Joshua also wrote, “These ‘less-lethal’ munitions are only ‘less-lethal’ by technicality. My brother’s condition shows what can happen when you fire them into a crowd.”
A GoFundMe Page Has Been Set Up for Justin & It Has Raised Over $25,000
Consider giving toward Justin Howell’s recovery. He is a @txst student who was hit by a rubber bullet during protests Sunday and has a fractured skull as well as brain damage. #HisNameIsJustinHowell https://t.co/ICYZBURouN #txst
— Jon Zmikly (@jonzmikly) June 4, 2020
A GoFundMe page has been set up for Justin by Gregory Arellano. As of Wednesday night, the campaign had raised more than $25,000 to go to Justin’s family, with over 1,200 donors.
One person that donated wrote: “This is the least we can do. The least. More important than donations is JUSTICE.” Another person wrote: “For justice. Black Lives Matter. Justin matters. He will continue the fight.”
The Austin City Council announced on Monday that it would be holding an emergency meeting this week. The council is scheduled to meet on Thursday afternoon to speak about Austin police officers’ response to the protests that have been taking place in the city and to address policing policies.
After the death of George Floyd on May 25 in Minneapolis, protests have erupted throughout the United States.