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Crime & Justice

Austin OKs $2.95 million settlement for Brad Levi Ayala, teen injured by police at 2020 protests

People protest in front of the Austin Police Department.
Michael Minasi
/
KUT
People protest in front of the Austin Police Department on May 30, 2020.

Austin has approved another settlement related to the Austin Police Department's use of beanbag rounds during the 2020 protests against racism and police violence.

The Austin City Council agreed to pay Brad Levi Ayala $2.95 million for injuries suffered after being shot by an APD officer on May 30, 2020. Ayala, who was 16 at the time, suffered brain trauma as a result of the shooting. Nicholas Gebhart, a nine-year veteran with the department, has been indicted for the shooting. Eighteen other APD officers have also been indicted for their use of force during the protests.

The settlement is the latest in a raft of lawsuits related to the use of the so-called less-lethal rounds that severely injured demonstrators. Austin has paid out four demonstrators injured during protests — a total of $13.1 million — since the city began settling civil suits in early February. Those settlements began with a $150,000 to Arianna Chavez. Two weeks later, the city OK'd agreements to pay $8 million to Justin Howell and $2 million to Anthony Evans.

Ayala's shooting, along with Justin Howell's, sparked a citywide discussion over APD's use-of-force policies. Shortly after the incidents, the department said it would no longer use the rounds to control crowds, though the department still maintains a cache of the ammunition.

Ayala's brother, Edwin, told city leaders his family was unsure whether he'd live after the shooting. Ayala had stopped by the protest outside APD headquarters after getting off work. He was along the side of I-35 when Gebhart shot him. Video of the incident sparked outrage.

"We thought he was going to die," Edwin told the Austin City Council in June 2020.

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