AUSTIN, Texas - Chief Brian Manley with the Austin Police Department has announced that the police department will no longer be using bean bag rounds for crowd control.
The announcement came during a special meeting held by Austin City Council. The special meeting was called to talk about the Austin Police Department's handling of days of demonstrations and protests.
However, that doesn't mean bean bags are completely off limits. Austin Mayor Steve Adler and other members of Austin City Council said they would take action at their next voting session.
Several incidents have led to an investigation and a discussion over the use of force by the Austin Police Department. In two separate incidents, two people were critically injured because of the tactics used by police on Sunday, May 31.
Justin Howell, a 20-year-old black male, was struck in the head with a less-lethal impact emission in front of APD headquarters in downtown Austin. Brad Levi Ayala, a 16-year-old Hispanic male, was also struck in the forehead in a separate incident.
Brad Ayala was on the berm for the 800 block of frontage road of northbound IH-35 when he was injured. The teenager appears to be struck with a less-lethal impact emission in the forehead in videos that are circulating on social media.
Doctors told Brad Levi Ayala's brother and mother that Levi had a puncture in his head and a risk of internal bleeding that they didn't even know about until they got the teen into surgery.
"We just didn't know...they started the surgery at 11, we didn't know, we thought he was going to die," Edwin said, crying. "... I was there with my mom, and we prayed all night."
He said the doctors thought it was a rubber bullet that struck Levi, so they left it in for hours. Once they performed the surgery, they determined it was actually a bean bag that struck Levi.
Justin Howell was standing on the street and recording video on his cell phone when another person near him threw a water bottle at officers that were standing on the stairs to APD's headquarters. Protesters briefly ran away before regrouping once again in front of the building.
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The same person then takes off his backpack and hurls it towards the police officers, according to Chief Manley. A police officer shot a less-lethal impact emission at the person, which struck Justin Howell.
Howell fell to the ground and hit his head.
The other protesters picked up the 20-year-old and brought him underneath the bridge for the IH-35 overpass. The protesters reportedly told police officers that the victim needed medical help, and the protesters were told to bring the victim to them so they could get him medical attention.
Officers allegedly fired more less-lethal impact emissions at the protesters when they attempted to bring the victim over to the police officers.
The victim was brought through APD headquarters and into an ambulance that transported him to a local hospital. He is currently in critical condition.