City of Austin to pay $10 million in lawsuits connected to May 2020 protests

The Austin City Council has approved $10 million in settlements in two lawsuits related to the May 2020 protests.

Texas State University political science student Justin Howell will be receiving $8 million and Anthony Evans will receive $2 million. The city says the amounts stem from their need for ongoing and long-term care.

"We have reviewed the totality of the circumstances surrounding the protests, and we believe it is in the best interest of these plaintiffs and the City of Austin to resolve these cases now," said a city spokesperson in a release. "We have other claims and lawsuits that have been filed as a result of injuries during the protests, and we will review each of those matters individually."

Howell was shot in the head with a bean bag round by an Austin police officer at a protest on May 31, 2020. He had been filming a protest at APD headquarters on his cellphone. Former Austin Police Chief Brian Manley said at the time that HALO camera footage shows a man standing near Howell throwing a water bottle, then a backpack at officers. 

An officer attempted to fire their less-lethal weapon -- a modified 12-gauge shotgun with bean bag munition -- at the man but missed, hitting Howell. Austin police then instructed protestors to carry Howell to the steps of police headquarters. As the group got close, bean bag shots were fired in their direction. 

The bean bag put Justin Howell in a coma and doctors told his family in May 2020 that the munition caused a skull fracture, resulting in brain damage and adding that his recovery will be a "marathon, not a sprint." 

Shortly after the shooting, former police chief Manley announced that the police force would no longer be using bean bags for crowd control. 

In October 2020, Anthony Evans filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against the City of Austin and an unidentified APD officer. 

While attending a Black Lives Matter demonstration on May 31, 2020, an APD officer shot Evans in the head with a beanbag shotgun round while Evans was attempting to leave the demonstration. Evans was seriously wounded, and required surgery to repair his broken jaw.

The previous day, other demonstrators had been injured by similar police violence, but APD leadership, including Manley, did nothing to stop his officers’ violence before other demonstrators, like Evans, were also seriously injured, according to Evans's lawyers.

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