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Photo by Julia Reihs/KUT. Brenda Ramos, the mother of Mike Ramos, demanded clarity from Austin Police Chief Brian Manley on Wednesday about whether he'll fire the officer who fatally shot her son.
Friday, October 16, 2020 by Andrew Weber, KUT
Mike Ramos’ mother asks Austin police chief whether he’ll fire officer who killed her son
The mother of Mike Ramos, a Black and Latino man who was shot and killed by an Austin police officer in April, is calling on the department to act on investigations into the officer.
At a press conference Wednesday, Brenda Ramos asked Chief Brian Manley to respond to the findings of the investigations into Officer Christopher Taylor – one that examined whether he deviated from APD policy and another to determine any criminal liability – or publicly state that he would not.
Outside La Mexicana on South First, Ramos demanded clarity from the police chief.
“Maybe Chief Manley disagrees with thousands of people who marched in the streets this summer demanding justice for my son, Mike. Maybe he believes my son deserved to be shot like that,” she said. “If that is Chief Manley’s decision, he should have the courage to tell us. This community deserves decisions from Chief Manley – and the police. This is their job. My son Mike deserves justice.”
The Austin Police Department says the criminal investigation into Taylor is “awaiting documentation from the Travis County Medical Examiner and the Texas Rangers,” who assisted. The department says the internal investigation is ongoing, but it’s unlikely Manley will discipline Taylor any time soon.
Rebecca Webber, Ramos’ attorney, said she’s been told by the city’s Law Department that both the criminal and internal investigations are effectively complete, and that the Travis County Medical Examiner’s report wouldn’t drastically alter the case.
“If the detectives think there’s something material in the (medical examiner’s) report that’s going to change whether or not a crime was committed, fine, wait for the report, but I think they have all of the facts,” Webber said. “They know whether or not there is probable cause to charge him.”
In an email to Webber shared with KUT, the city’s litigation division chief, Meghan Riley, says any disciplinary action will be put off “until the criminal process is final,” as it could taint a grand jury’s decision. Riley also wrote that APD and the Texas Rangers “are not actively working on the case and have not been for several weeks.”
Outgoing District Attorney Margaret Moore has said she would pass the case on to the next district attorney, along with the case of Javier Ambler, who died while in the custody of Williamson County deputies last year. José Garza, who beat Moore in the Democratic primary, largely ran on pledges to take up cases involving police violence and to better prosecute sexual assault cases. He is heavily favored to defeat Republican Martin Harry in the general election.
Austin Justice Coalition founder Chas Moore said Wednesday if the next DA does not take action, he wants Manley to fire Taylor. Manley has been largely silent since Austin City Council’s no-confidence vote on his leadership in August.
“We just believe it’s time for Chief Manley – while he’s still the police chief – to actually do some work. We haven’t heard from this man in months anyway,” he said. “It would be nice to hear from him about what he wants to do in regards to the discipline – if he’s going to discipline officers who were involved in the shooting, or if he’s not going to do anything at all.”
Ramos was shot on April 24, 2020, after police responded to a call about people doing drugs in a Southeast Austin parking lot and a man holding a gun.
Bodycam video of the shooting released in July shows the 42-year-old taken off guard by the six officers dispatched to the call. Ramos insisted he was unarmed before he was shot with a lead pellet bag. He then attempted to drive away from the scene when Taylor fatally shot him.
APD policy allows officers to fire on moving vehicles “when it is reasonably perceived that the vehicle is being used as a weapon against the officer or others.” Taylor’s attorneys have argued he feared for his life.
Police later confirmed Ramos was unarmed.
Brenda Ramos has argued that because her son was driving away from police into a dead end and because there were no officers in the vehicle’s path, Taylor violated APD policy.
She has asked to meet with Manley, but Webber said the city’s Law Department told her Wednesday that Manley will not meet with Ramos.
This story was produced as part of the Austin Monitor’s reporting partnership with KUT.
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