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Austin police confirm what activists believed: Man killed in officer shooting was unarmed

Tuesday, May 12, 2020 by Audrey McGlinchy, KUT

Austin police did not find a gun in or near the car of Michael Ramos, the Austin man who died after being shot at by police last month, Chief Brian Manley said Monday.

“We did not locate a firearm inside the vehicle, nor did we locate a firearm in the area around the vehicle,” Manley said at a news conference. “We brought in canines that are trained to locate firearms and searched the area, but there was no firearm located.”

Ramos, 42, died April 24 after being shot at in Southeast Austin by two officers. First, he was shot with a bean-bag round, described by police as a nonlethal bullet, while his hands were in the air. When Ramos got in a car and drove away, another officer shot at him with his rifle, and the vehicle crashed.

Police had been responding to a 911 call claiming people were doing drugs in the parking lot of an apartment complex and a man was holding a gun.

“Duh,” Austin Justice Coalition founder Chas Moore said after Manley’s news conference. “We know that if there would have been a gun we would have known this almost two weeks ago.”

Austin Public Safety Commissioner Chris Harris said last week he believed Ramos was unarmed when police shot at him. He later clarified that he didn’t know this for a fact, but suspected it was so.

“I have no definitive knowledge about that and only meant to imply that it appeared that he was,” Harris wrote on Twitter. “Based on how the police typically respond to these incidents, they likely would have told us if he was armed by now.”

Manley said police conducted a search of Ramos’ car two days after the shooting, but did not release the findings until now because they didn’t want to influence what witnesses told police. He said it was the department’s intention to release footage from officers’ dashboard and body cameras, but could not say when that would happen.

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

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