AUSTIN (KXAN) — A pregnant woman said she was shot in the stomach, back and back of her head with a rubber bullet by Austin Police during a protest, and now, she’s calling for accountability.
Saraneka “Nemo” Martin told a crowd gathered outside of Police Headquarters her baby is “OK,” and she has received medical care in the days following the incident.
“All I could think about was my babies,” she said, describing the moments after being hit on May 30.
Martin said she was sitting on the ground when officers started shooting the less-lethal rounds. She said she was hit in the stomach, then her back and the back of her head. At the Friday press conference where she told her story, she walked with a cane and the help of her husband.
“Pregnancy is already pretty hard, then add getting shot a few times to that,” she said.
In a news conference in the days following the protest, Austin Police Chief Brian Manley said his department is looking into exactly what happened that led to this shooting.
“I know there’s another incident where we have a African American female, pregnant female, that has reportedly been struck with an impact munition to her belly, and that investigation is ongoing, as well,” Manley said.
“I was not hurt by protesters. I was hurt by APD.”Saraneka Martin, hit with less-lethal round during protest
One of the Street Medics who helped Martin that day read a statement, describing tense moments where they said people in an ambulance at the scene refused to treat her, at first.
“When Saraneka was carried out of the crowd, she was barely conscious,” the statement read. “Both doctors and police officers claim to protect, but continue to inflict violence on black bodies.”
Manley said in the days following the shooting that, “She, too, was brought into police headquarters and was rendered aid to ensure that she received first aid and then was assisted by both medics and APD personnel.”
Martin said she’s been asked why she attended a protest while pregnant.
She replied that she had to protest “because she was pregnant,” discussing problems with getting medical care for her prior pregnancies.
Denise Washington, a doula and birth advocate, addressed the disparities black women face in the health care system.
“We are never taken seriously,” Washington said. “No one else is concerned about us.”
KXAN INVESTIGATES: New moms struggling with mental health during COVID-19
She called on the medical community to take the concerns of black mothers more seriously.
“What if it was your family? What would you do? How would you react?”
KXAN Investigator Arezow Doost spoke with leaders at Black Mamas ATX, which works to address black maternal health disparities.
The organization said one in three black women experience postpartum depression, so they are expanding their services to try and help, by hosting virtual support groups where experts tackle mental health.