Donavan La Bella, the 26-year-old protester who a U.S. Marshal shot and severely injured on July 11, is slowly recovering and due to be released from in-patient rehab this weekend, according to his mother, Desiree La Bella.
Desiree said her son suffered a depressed skull fracture in the frontal lobe, and as a result has impaired impulse control and some lost cognitive function.
“He gets upset and frustrated and angry very quickly,” Desiree said. “He doesn't have that impulse control. He doesn't have the ability to stop himself and say, ‘Hey, I probably shouldn't throw the phone my sister just got me because I'm still stuck in [the hospital] and they won't let me out.”
A federal officer shot Donavan La Bella during downtown protests against racism and police violence in front of the Mark O. Hatfield Federal Courthouse. In a video of the incident posted online, La Bella is seen pushing a canister of smoke or tear gas away from his feet across the street from the courthouse. Moments later, he returns to holding a speaker over his head with both hands. An officer then fired an impact munition and La Bella collapsed to the ground, dropping the speaker. He was rushed to the hospital and needed emergency surgery that same night.
The incident led to outcry from city, state and national leaders including both of Oregon's senators, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren. The Department of Justice Office of the Inspector General opened an investigation into the use of force by federal officers and Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum said she would consider opening a criminal investigation against the deputy who shot La Bella.
Desiree La Bella said she had declined to take phone calls from politicians, saying she didn’t want to see a political screaming match over her son’s shooting.
“I don't care whose kid it was,” she told OPB. “To shoot any object at an unarmed person is just wrong. There was no need for it. It was excessive. And especially as highly trained as they are. They know better.”
La Bella’s injury has become a rallying cry for demonstrators in Portland, with some protesters spraying graffiti calling for justice in response to the police attack. One person gathered at the protest front lines even recently created a plein air painting of La Bella in a hospital bed.
Desiree lives in Oklahoma and said she can’t come to Portland to take care of her son because she doesn’t have a job in Oregon or a place to live. Instead, Donavan’s two older sisters are being trained on how to take care of him, and plan to help with his rehab.
Desiree said the family has received hate-filled messages on social media attacking Donavan and accusing him of being affiliated with antifa.
“You know, ‘I hope he goes to jail after.’ They're calling him antifa scum. ‘Too bad it wasn't a better shot,’” she said. “They're hateful.”
To keep Donavan safe, they plan to keep him out of Portland for the foreseeable future.
Doctors told Desiree that Donavan has recovered quicker than they expected but the ultimate prognosis is uncertain.
“They still won’t be 100% sure if he comes back completely and how long that would take,” she said. “There is a little bit of damage. They just don’t know the extent.”