Federal law enforcement shot and severely injured a peaceful protester Saturday night during demonstrations in front of the federal courthouse in downtown Portland, reports Oregon Public Broadcasting.
Donavan LaBella, 26, was shot in the head by what friends and witnesses said was an impact munition, often described as a “less lethal” munition that often kills or severely maims people.
In a video of the incident, LaBella is seen holding a boombox before a canister of smoke or tear gas is fired near his feet. He attempts to push it away while standing across the street from the Mark O. Hatfield federal courthouse.
Moments later, LaBella returns to holding a speaker over his head with both hands, clearly not presenting a threat to anyone. Shots of impact munitions can be heard seconds later, and LaBella collapses to the ground, dropping the speaker.
— Simulation Warlord🇺🇸 (@zerosum24) July 12, 2020
A second video posted online shows LaBella on the ground unconscious and bleeding from his head before protesters pick him up and move him out of the way.
The video shows federal law enforcement officers standing by across the street looking on.
The officers have a shot someone in the head with what appears to be an impact munition, there is a lot of blood. #blacklivesmatter #pdx #portlandoregon #oregon #blm #acab #portland #justicecenter pic.twitter.com/8JmR3QA0AN
— Garrison Davis (Teargas Proof) (@hungrybowtie) July 12, 2020
Desiree LaBella, Donavan’s mother, said her son suffered facial and skull fractures.
Donavan came out of surgery early Sunday morning and was responding to doctors. He was able to move his arms and legs, Desiree LaBella said.
“He was awake enough to give the OK to talk to me,” she said. “He’s had some facial reconstruction surgery. They’re just watching him right now.”
Desiree LaBella said she planned to contact an attorney Monday for a possible lawsuit on behalf of her son. She spoke to her son via computer Sunday morning and said that while he was awake, doctors were monitoring his neurological condition and continuing work to drain blood from his brain.
Caitlyn Sakelik, one of Donavan LaBella’s close friends, said he had been standing in Lownsdale Square Park across the street from the federal courthouse when officers started shooting impact munitions into the crowd. Sakelik’s husband, Elton Rosas, said the shooting was completely unprovoked.
“He’s been completely nonviolent the entire time he’s been down there,” Rosas said. “He helps deescalate situations. Out of all people, he’s one of the nicest kids you will ever meet.”
During a military briefing Friday, President Trump indicated he sent federal law enforcement officers to Portland to quell the nightly protests over police violence. Trump claimed Portland police were incapable of managing the protests themselves.
“It was out of control. The locals couldn’t handle it,” Trump said, speaking to acting head of Homeland Security Chad Wolf. “And you people are handling it very nicely.”
Gov. Kate Brown on Sunday called for federal officials to scale back their response to the protests.
“The events of last night at the federal courthouse were the tragic and avoidable result of President Donald Trump, for weeks, continuing to push for force and violence in response to protests,” Brown said in a statement. “The cycle of violence must end. President Trump deploying armed federal officers to Portland only serves to escalate tensions and, as we saw yesterday, will inevitably lead to unnecessary violence and confrontation.”
U.S. Sens. Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley both called for answers from the federal government.
“Given President Trump’s misuse of force against protesters outside the White House and elsewhere, the deployment of federal agents in Portland raises serious concerns,” Merkley said in a written statement. “What was their mission? Did they abuse peaceful protestors? Were their uniforms accurately marked? Did they made the situation worse? What weapons did they use? Were they invited by Portland police or local officials?”
“The consequences of Donald Trump unilaterally dispatching fed’l law enforcement into U.S. cities played out in Portland w/a peaceful protester shot in the head,” Wyden wrote in a Sunday tweet. “Trump & Homeland Security must now answer why fed’l officers are acting like an occupying army.”