AUSTIN, Texas – A black activist who was critically injured after he was shot by Austin police with “less-lethal” ammunition has been identified by family as Justin Howell, a 20-year-old Texas State University student who recently graduated from Communications Arts High School in San Antonio.
Northside ISD spokesperson Barry Perez told KSAT that Howell graduated in 2018. The Taft Raider Band tweeted that Howell was an alum.
Joshua Howell revealed his brother’s identity in a op-ed he wrote in Texas A&M University’s student newspaper The Battalion.
Texas State President Denise Trauth also issued a statement on Twitter confirming Howell is currently a student.
It is difficult to find the words to share this news with you. Today, I learned one of our students, Justin Howell, was critically injured in a protest in Austin on Sunday, May 31.— Denise M. Trauth (@TXSTPresident) June 3, 2020
“Black Lives Matter. It is not debatable at Texas State. Justin Howell’s life matters,” Trauth wrote. “Black lives matter in our classrooms, on our campuses, and in the streets during tumultuous protests. They matter every moment of every day, no exceptions, no debate.”
In the op-ed, Joshua Howell said doctors told his family that his brother has a fractured skull and brain damage.
“Doctors anticipate that when he wakes up, he will have difficulty telling his left from his right,” he wrote.
Howell was taking part in mass demonstrations Sunday night in Austin to protest police brutality and the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis.
He was in a large group of people protesting outside Austin Police Department Headquarters.
During a media briefing on Monday, Austin police chief Brian Manley said the department’s cameras showed a protester, later identified as Howell, standing outside headquarters around 11 p.m. and recording with his phone.
Manley said another man threw a water bottle and then hurled a backpack toward officers guarding the building.
“Within a moments notice after that, one of the officers fired their less-lethal munition at that individual, apparently, but it struck this victim instead,” Manley said. “This victim then fell to the ground and it appears that he hit his head when he fell to the ground as well.”
Manley said a crowd of protesters picked up the victim and attempted to carry him toward officers to get medical attention. Video circulating on social media showed the group being shot at while carrying Howell.
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“As is being widely reported and as is currently under review, it’s reported they were fired upon with less-lethal munitions as they brought this victim towards the officers to get him medical help,” Manley said.
The group managed to get Howell inside the building and he was transported to the hospital.
“We are praying for this young man and his family, and we’re hoping that his condition improves quickly,” said Manley.
Manley said the investigation in the incident is ongoing.
Howell blasted Manley in the op-ed for failing to take responsibility or apologize to his family and the group of protesters carrying his brother.
“He sat at his desk for three full minutes, gave us the details above and at no point apologized to my brother, my family or the five brave protesters who carried Justin to police headquarters under fire. To those protesters: My family sees you, and we thank you,” Howell wrote.
Howell said he spoke directly with a protester who was there and was told “other protesters were throwing rocks, water bottles, and a backpack. Justin was not.”