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Prosecutors End Murder Case Against Austin Police Officer


Prosecutors in Texas said on Wednesday that they had decided not to continue 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 had decided to end the case after a grand jury on Tuesday declined to indict the officer, Christopher Taylor.

In 2021, Officer Taylor was indicted on a murder charge 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 rounds from his rifle at Mr. Ramos’s moving car, striking him, after a 911 caller reported that a man with drugs was sitting in a car and holding a gun, the Austin police said. After the shooting, the police confirmed that Mr. Ramos was unarmed.

The killing of Mr. Ramos, who was Black and Hispanic, set off protests against police violence in Austin about a month before the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis catalyzed global demonstrations against police brutality and systemic racism.

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

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

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

Brenda Ramos, Mr. Ramos’s mother, has sued Officer Taylor and the city of Austin, saying she wants to hold them accountable and recover damages for her son’s “senseless killing.” That lawsuit is still pending.

In a statement on Wednesday, lawyers for Ms. Ramos said she was “appalled and dismayed” at the grand jury’s decision. “The grand jury’s conclusion cuts against the overwhelming weight of evidence of Officer Taylor’s culpability 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 gratuitous killing of her son.”

Officer Taylor’s lawyers, Ken Ervin and Doug O’Connell, said in a statement that Mr. Garza had “abused the grand jury system to create a false reason for his dismissal of 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 that indictment. Instead, they said, he presented the case to a second grand jury “with facts designed” to ensure that it would not issue any indictments.

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

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

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

Officer Taylor, who is on paid administrative duty with the Austin Police Department, is still scheduled to go to trial in September in a separate 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 had been holding a knife in the hallway of his condominium complex on July 31, 2019.

Mr. DeSilva had severe mental illness and had been 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 experiencing a mental health crisis and yet still responding “as if this were the scene of a violent crime.”

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


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