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Crime & Justice

Chief Manley Says Black Man In Critical Condition After Being Shot With 'Less Lethal' Round

A line of Austin Police officers block the front of police headquarters Sunday as thousands protest in the street.
Michael Minasi
/
KUT
A line of Austin police officers block the front of police headquarters Sunday as thousands protest the police killings of black people..

A 20-year-old black man is hospitalized in critical condition after police shot him with beanbag rounds outside police headquarters Sunday night, Austin Police Chief Brian Manley said Monday.

At a news conference, Manley also confirmed a Latino teenager was in the hospital with serious injuries after an officer fired a beanbag round "directly" at him. A pregnant woman hit with a beanbag was hospitalized as well, he said.

All three appeared to have been protesting peacefully.

Manley called the beanbag rounds "less lethal" ammunition. He said the officers involved in the shootings are still on duty.

Videos and photos of the three shootings circulated on social media over the weekend, but the department hadn't confirmed the incidents until Monday evening.

Videos show a handful of people, who were also shot at with beanbag rounds, carrying the unidentified 20-year-old to police headquarters. A Facebook post about the shooting by a woman who said she was a medic and had been on the frontline of demonstrations, was shared thousands of times.

The two young men appear nonresponsive in the videos.

"One, at least, is fighting for their life, and the other one has been seriously injured, as well," he said, "and that is not what we set out to do as a police department. That is not what we set out to do this weekend. Again, we were trying to ensure space for our community to come out and practice their protected speech – their First Amendment rights – to speak out about these issues that we know are so important right now."

The chief said the incidents are under review, and that the Office of Police Oversight is involved. The department is asking people with any video to send it to APD for investigators to examine.

Manley was conciliatory, but ultimately defended his officers' use of force – including the use of tear gas – which he said met the department's guidelines. Still, he said, the department was "thoroughly evaluating" those guidelines.

Overall, he said, demonstrations against the police killings of George Floyd, Mike Ramos, Breonna Taylor and other black people were peaceful, but that rallies had been "infiltrated" by people who began throwing objects at police and completely shutting down I-35.

APD was criticized for the use of tear gas, technically known as "CS gas," which is banned during wartime by the Geneva Convention, but Manley said it was necessary to clear the interstate.

"That crowd was unwilling to move when given commands," he said, and based on the experience from Saturday, when they had taken over IH-35 as well, [we believed] that it was a much safer way – to disperse the gas, the CS gas, and remove those protesters from" I-35.  

APD arrested more than 40 people over the weekend, on charges including burglary, obstructing a highway, participating in a riot and interfering with public duties.

Asked what he would say to the victims' families, Manley said he would make himself available to them and that he was praying for them.

As other major cities – including Los Angeles, New York City, San Antonio and Dallas – enact curfews, Manley said Austin would "not be moving forward" with one at this point.  

He said the department will provide an update to the Austin City Council at its meeting Thursday.

This story has been updated. 

Got a tip? Email Andrew Weber at aweber@kut.org. Follow him on Twitter @England_Weber.

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