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Protestors Justin Howell and Anthony Evans were awarded a combined $10 million after being shot by bean bag rounds at the 2020 George Floyd protests in Austin. (Emma Freer/Austonia)

The city of Austin will pay a record-high $8 million to settle a federal lawsuit with Justin Howell, a then-20-year-old student at Texas State University who suffered head injuries from "less-lethal" bean bag rounds shot by Austin police officers in the 2020 George Floyd protests. The city will also award $2 million to Anthony Evans, who was also shot by APD officers during the protests.

The combined $10 million settlement was approved in a unanimous vote from Austin City Council Thursday. Howell's $8 million is by far the most ever rewarded in an Austin excessive force case. Prior to Howell's case, Austin paid a then-record of $3.25 million settlement to the family of David Joseph, a teenager who was naked and unarmed when APD officer Geoffrey Freeman shot and killed him in 2016.

Both Howell and Evans suffered head injuries from bean bag munition in the summer 2020 protests. Officers aiming at a protestor who reportedly hurled a water bottle at police shot Howell in the head instead, causing a skull fracture and brain damage that resulted in three weeks of treatment in intensive care.

Evans was also shot in the face with the lead-filled sacks, causing a broken jaw that required emergency surgery.

The two settlements come as a grand jury considers charges against up to 18 Austin police officers on a dozen excessive force cases after 30 protesters were injured in the summer of 2020. Like Howell and Evans, six of the twelve cases involve shots fired to the head.

The jury is expected to conclude its investigation by the end of the month.


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