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Austin OKs $850,000 settlement for volunteer medic shot with ‘less-lethal’ ammunition during protest

Friday, May 6, 2022 by Andrew Weber, KUT

The city of Austin approved a $850,000 settlement to resolve a lawsuit over the Austin Police Department’s use of so-called less lethal ammunition during the 2020 racial justice protests.

Maredith Drake, a street medic during protests outside police headquarters, was shot with a “beanbag” filled with lead pellets while trying to help a demonstrator who’d been hurt.

Drake’s lawsuit is one of 18 that have been filed over Austin police officers’ use of force during the protests; it’s the fifth settlement approved by City Council this year.

The city has already paid $13 million to people who were seriously injured by ammunition police used to control the crowds, like lead-pellet-filled bags fired from shotguns and foam bullets.

Drake filed her lawsuit in September 2020. In it, she said she was trying to carry Justin Howell to the front of a protest on May 31 when officers shot her, severely injuring her hands.

Howell, who sustained brain damage after being shot with the ammunition, also sued the city. City Council approved an $8 million settlement in that case in February.

Eighteen APD officers were indicted on assault charges by a grand jury in February. Chance Bretches, the officer who allegedly shot Drake, was not indicted.

This story was produced as part of the Austin Monitor’s reporting partnership with KUT.

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