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Prosecutors close murder case against Austin police officer

Texas prosecutors said Wednesday they decided not to pursue a murder case against an Austin police officer that resulted in a hung jury last year.

The Travis County District Attorney’s Office said it decided to end the case after a grand jury Tuesday declined to indict Officer Christopher Taylor.

In 2021, Officer Taylor was charged with murder after prosecutors said he fatally shot Michael Ramos, 42, an unarmed man, outside an Austin apartment complex on April 24, 2020.

Officer Taylor fired three gunshots at Mr. Ramos’ moving car, striking him, after a 911 caller reported a drugged man sitting in a car and holding a gun, Austin police said. After the shooting, police confirmed that Mr. Ramos was not armed.

The killing of Mr. Ramos, who was black and Hispanic, sparked protests against police brutality in Austin about a month before the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, which catalyzed global protests against police brutality and systemic racism.

In November, a jury failed to reach a verdict in the Officer Taylor murder case, leading to a mistrial.

On Tuesday, prosecutors presented the case to a second grand jury, asking it to consider murder and other charges, the prosecutor’s office said. But the committee declined to issue indictments on the charges presented, the office said.

“We are surprised and disappointed by this outcome, but we also respect the grand jury’s decision and time,” Travis County District Attorney José Garza said in a statement. “Our hearts continue to break for the Ramos family, who we know are still grieving. »

Brenda Ramos, Mr. Ramos’ mother, sued Officer Taylor and the city of Austin, saying she wanted to hold them accountable and seek redress for the “senseless murder” of her son. This trial is still ongoing.

In a statement released Wednesday, Ms. Ramos’ lawyers said she was “dismayed and dismayed” by the grand jury’s decision. “The grand jury’s finding flies in the face of the overwhelming weight of evidence of Officer Taylor’s guilt in the senseless shooting death of Mike Ramos. She looks forward to facing Taylor in federal court and holding him accountable for the baseless and wanton murder of her son.

Officer Taylor’s attorneys, Ken Ervin and Doug O’Connell, said in a statement that Mr. Garza “abused the grand jury system to create a false reason to dismiss the murder charge against Officer Taylor “.

Mr. Ervin and Mr. O’Connell said that after the mistrial, the 2021 indictment was still pending against Officer Taylor and that Mr. Garza could have proceeded to trial on the basis of this indictment. Instead, they said, he presented the case to a second grand jury “with facts designed” to ensure it would not issue an indictment.

“And now he’s blaming the second grand jury for why he has to dismiss the indictment issued by the first grand jury,” Mr. Ervin and Mr. O’Connell said.

“No dismissal is necessitated by what happened today,” the lawyers added, accusing Mr. Garza of organizing the second grand jury process to “avoid another embarrassing defeat involving a trial against a law enforcement officer.”

Mr. Garza’s office had no immediate comment on the indictment or the office’s decision to present the case to a second grand jury.

Officer Taylor, who is on paid administrative assignment with the Austin Police Department, still faces trial in September in another murder case, Mr. Ervin said.

In 2021, Officer Taylor and another Austin police officer, Karl Krycia, were charged with murder and deadly conduct in the fatal shooting of Mauris DeSilva, 46, who was holding a knife in the hallway of his apartment complex. co-ownerships on July 31, 2019.

Mr. DeSilva suffered from serious mental illness and was holding the knife to his neck when people in the building called 911, according to a lawsuit filed by his father that accused Officers Taylor and Krycia of knowing that Mr. DeSilva was going through a mental health crisis. and yet they still react “as if it were the scene of a violent crime.”

Officer Taylor’s lawyers argued that he protected himself after Mr. DeSilva refused to drop the knife and came within three or four feet of the officer.

News Source : www.nytimes.com
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