AUSTIN, Texas - The attorneys for one of the officers involved in a shooting that left a man dead in Southeast Austin has withdrawn their motion to prohibit public release of camera footage of the incident.
In a press conference, APD Chief Brian Manley says that the motion was preventing the department from releasing body camera footage of the shooting to the public.
The attorneys for Officer Christopher Taylor, whom the department says was the officer who fired the fatal shot at 42-year-old Michael Ramos, say that after viewing video of the incident from two police cameras, they have withdrawn their motion. However, they also say they do not agree with Manley releasing any evidence while the investigation is ongoing.
"Nevertheless, we continue to disagree with Chief Manley’s decision to release anything while the investigation is ongoing and before a grand jury has had an opportunity to review the facts in their entirety," a statement from the attorneys reads. "Transparency is important for promoting public confidence in investigations, but it must occur at the correct time and in the correct manner to ensure pending legal processes remain unaffected by improper outside influence."
They say Manley's "premature and selective release of only limited footage" without full context is not transparency.
"It is the release of one or two items of evidence while continuing to keep volumes of other evidence hidden from public view," the statement said. "This selective approach does nothing to promote public confidence in the ongoing investigation."
The attorneys say they remain confident that Taylor's actions "were appropriate, lawful, and consistent with his training."
In April, Ramos was shot and killed in the shooting in a parking lot at the Rosemont at Oak Valley apartments. A cell phone video shared with FOX 7 Austin shows Ramos with his hands up, showing his waist. He is standing on the drivers-side of a car, telling police he is unarmed.
Police yell commands at Ramos, before Ramos is shot once with a bean bag. Manley says the less-lethal weapon was fired by rookie Austin Police Officer Mitchell Pieper.
Ramos then gets into a car and attempts to drive away when Taylor shoots him three times with a rifle. Manley confirmed that Taylor was one of two officers who fired a lethal weapon, killing a man experiencing a mental health crisis in downtown Austin in July 2019.
Manley said previously that officers were initially dispatched to the complex Friday night because a 9-1-1 caller stated they saw people doing drugs in a car, and that a man had a gun Manley later confirmed that officers had searched the car Ramos was killed in, but would not confirm at the time if the department did, or did not find a gun. He confirmed in a press conference Monday that officers did not, in fact, find a gun in or around the car.
Get breaking news alerts in the FOX 7 Austin News app. It is FREE!
The shooting prompted protesters to chant “How do you spell murderers? APD! How do you spell racists APD!” as police executed a search warrant related to the shooting across the street in a parking lot where the shooting occurred.
More than twenty Central Texas activist groups also called on high-ranking Austin officials, including the police chief, to resign after the shooting. 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, sent a letter, co-signed by other activists and activist groups, to Mayor Steve Adler, City Manager Spencer Cronk, and several city council members, outlining the request. The letter also demanded an independent investigation into Ramos’ death.
READ THE FULL STATEMENT BELOW:
Having now viewed video from two police cameras that captured the incident, we have withdrawn our motion to prohibit public release of the footage. Nevertheless, we continue to disagree with Chief Manley’s decision to release anything while the investigation is ongoing and before a grand jury has had an opportunity to review the facts in their entirety.
Transparency is important for promoting public confidence in investigations, but it must occur at the correct time and in the correct manner to ensure pending legal processes remain unaffected by improper outside influence. Chief Manley’s premature and selective release of only limited footage, without releasing the accompanying full context of what occurred and what was known to officers before the incident, is not transparency. It is the release of one or two items of evidence while continuing to keep volumes of other evidence hidden from public view. This selective approach does nothing to promote public confidence in the ongoing investigation.
While we question whether transparency is the true motive behind this highly unusual break from normal investigative protocol, we remain confident Officer Taylor’s actions were appropriate, lawful, and consistent with his training. We also remain confident all relevant fact-finding bodies will ultimately agree.
Ken Ervin & Doug O’Connell, attorneys for Officer Taylor