AUSTIN, Texas - More than twenty Central Texas activist groups are calling on high-ranking Austin officials, including the police chief, to resign after Friday night's fatal officer-involved shooting.
Police received a 9-1-1 call that people were doing drugs in a car and that a man had a gun in the parking lot of the Rosemont at Oak Valley Apartments. That car matched the description of a car 42-year-old Michael Ramos was in. Austin Police Chief Brian Manley says officers on-scene waited until there were “several” officers present, after learning that the car was linked to several burglaries, and had evaded police the day prior.
Cell phone video shows officers surrounding Ramos with their guns drawn. Ramos, standing next to a car with the driver-side door open, has his hands up and is showing his waist. He can be heard telling officers he is unarmed. Officers yell commands at Ramos and then, rookie Officer Mitchell Pieper fires a bean bag, hitting Ramos. Ramos gets into the car and attempts to drive away.
Then, Officer Christopher Taylor fires at least three fatal shots with a rifle. Taylor was one of two officers who fired lethal weapons in a fatal July 2019 officer-involved shooting in downtown Austin.
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Manley says the department has searched the car Ramos was in, but will not confirm if the department did or did not find a gun. He says he does not want to jeopardize the ongoing investigation.
“I think the longer you delay that type of information from the community and potentially from the family and people that are curious as to why things transpired the way they did, I think that only widens the gap of trust,” said Chas Moore, co-founder and president of the Austin Justice Coalition, the group spearheading the effort to remove Austin’s Assistant City Manager Rey Arrellano, Chief Brian Manley and his Chief of Staff Troy Gay.
The group sent a letter, co-signed by other activists and activist groups, to Mayor Steve Adler, City Manager Spencer Cronk, and several city council members Monday, outlining the request.
“In our perspective [Chief Manley has] failed the safety of black people, Latino-brown people and other people of color in this community,” said Moore.
Chief Manley provided FOX 7 Austin with this statement:
“I am aware of the letter calling for my removal as the Chief of the Austin Police Department. We are currently still handling the COVID19 pandemic, the Tatum law report, and the officer-involved shooting from last week. My focus remains on these priority public safety issues.”
In the letter, the group says they also want to delay the department's June academy class to ensure all cadets are “adequately” trained in de-escalation.
“I would say [current training is] inadequate just based off of the data and the people that have been affected by the Austin Police department. But, to be completely fair, because we don’t really know what the training looks like, I can’t really give an objective opinion on that which in my opinion I think also begs the question, like what’s in the training why can’t we see the training?” Moore said.
Austin Police Association President Ken Casaday told FOX 7 Austin that cadets receive eight months of training, which is open to the public.
“I just think it's a shame that you have, once again, people not knowing what they're talking about -- asking for a change, when they don't even know what we're taught," Casaday said. "It's just like it's disingenuous, and then shows the lack of, you know, no professional knowledge that these individuals need to have to pass judgment on a police department.”
The letter also demands an independent investigation into Ramos’ death. When asked how he feels about the Austin Police Department and District Attorney Margaret Moore’s decision to bring the Texas Rangers in to assist with the investigation, Chas Moore said he had mixed emotions -- but ultimately felt that Margaret Moore was the expert.
SEE THE FULL LETTER BELOW: