Austin police will not fire bags filled with lead pellets into crowds going forward, Austin Police Chief Brian Manley said Thursday.
“The use of this beanbag ammunition will not be used in a crowd situation,” he said during an emergency Austin City Council meeting called to discuss police violence. “It is still an appropriate tool in many other circumstances, and so it is still approved for use. However, not in crowd situations.”
The council and Manley have been hearing from people during the virtual hearing about the protests against racism and police brutality. Austin police officers shot bags filled with lead pellets at protesters throughout the weekend, critically injuring a 20-year-old black man. A Latino teenager and a pregnant woman were also hospitalized after police shot the ammunition at them.
Edwin Ayala, brother of the injured teenager, spoke through tears during the virtual hearing. He said his 16-year-old brother, who is still in the hospital, was shot in the head, leaving him with a large contusion.
“By the time we got to the hospital, they said he had a puncture in his head, and the risk of internal bleeding wouldn’t be known until he got into the surgery,” Ayala said. “We thought he was going to die.”
After hearing Ayala’s testimony, Council Member Greg Casar asked Manley what he was going to do to make sure this never happens to anyone else going forward. Manley said the ammunition would not be used in crowds anymore.
But Casar said that’s not enough.
“I’ve seen the video of Levi [the hospitalized teenager], and he wasn’t in a crowd,” he said. “He was standing by himself, so changing the policy for crowds would not have changed this. The answer is insufficient.”
Austin City Council will hear from the police department during a second day of emergency meetings on Friday.