Everything we know about the teen shot in the head with less lethal round at Austin protest

Investigations

AUSTIN (KXAN) — A 16-year-old boy is undergoing neurological testing after an Austin police officer shot him in the head Saturday with a “less lethal” bean-bag round. The family of Brad Levi Ayala says the teen’s vital signs are stable as he undergoes those tests.

Widely-shared video of the incident showed the teen collapsing. Multiple people rushed to help him. At the time, he appears to be simply standing on the berm along I-35 near 8th street.

“I’ve seen the video where he is standing and it appears as though he is struck in that video that I’ve seen on social media with a less-lethal impact munition in the head, in the forehead,” Austin Police Chief Brian Manley said Monday.

In a post on GoFundMe, Ayala’s family said he is “recovering and stable but the recovery will be a long process.” They added he is conscious, but “in a great deal of pain and discomfort” and said doctors continue to monitor him. Tuesday, they said, was his first pain-free day.

Manley confirmed police also shot a 20-year-old black man in the head with the less lethal rounds, and he is in critical condition.

“I’m crushed. I’ve cried a few times today,” Manley said. “This was two very young people that we believe are from our community, but regardless, that are right now fighting for their life and seriously injured. That is not what we set out to do as a police department.”

“I know that we are investigating that case, as well. We are trying to pull together all of our video, body-worn camera video, whatever else we may have, to piece together what happened in that incident.”

Ayala’s family says he showed up to the protest after working at an Austin-area Jersey Mike’s. The bright blue shirt in the video is his work shirt.

“The kid in this video has been working since before he turned 16 to save up for a car,” his sister Valerie Sanchez wrote after posting the video of her brother’s shooting on YouTube. “He is a good kid who got shot with rubber bullets right on the forehead in his fast food work uniform.”

Protesters helped carry Ayala down to officers to receive medical attention. Ayala’s brother thanked those protesters in a tweet and criticized officers for not responding.

The Austin Police Department has not said which officer shot Ayala with the “less lethal” rounds. In addition to saying that he has seen the videos on social media, Chief Manley also asked others to come forward with their own videos.

“And I would ask that the community in both of these incidents, if you have any video that you captured — because I know a lot of people were recording — please bring that to us so that we can include that in our review of these incidents,” he said.

Researchers: bean bag rounds should not be used for crowd control

A group of researchers studied the use of “less lethal” options for crowd control by police, including rubber bullets and bean bag rounds.

Their study, published in BMJ which is formerly known as the British Medical Journal, looks at injuries related to these projectiles from 1990 to 2017.

The researchers concluded that their use is inherently inaccurate, and there’s potential for misuse and severe injury, disability and death.

“There’s no place for them in crowd control settings,” said Dr. Rohini Haar, who is with the group Physicians for Human Rights. “They’re dangerous and they’re indiscriminate.”

Austin Police Chief Brian Manley said while the department is thoroughly reviewing its crowd-control policies, his department’s use of force over the weekend was “within policy.”

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