AUSTIN, Texas - Austin police have identified the 42-year-old man killed in Friday night's fatal officer-involved shooting in Southeast Austin as Michael Ramos.
The shooting occurred in a parking lot at the Rosemont at Oak Valley apartments. It was filmed by several witnesses. 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. Austin Police Chief Brian 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 another officer, Christopher 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.
“Just from a facial view of the video it’s hard to understand what happened and the justification for what happened. Obviously you don’t get all the facts from watching a spectators video like that and it’s important that there be a full investigation so that we know all of the facts.” Austin Mayor Steve Adler told FOX 7 Austin.
On Monday, Manley provided an update on that investigation. He says the Texas Rangers will now be working with the Austin Police Department's Special Investigations unit on the case.
“The APD special investigations unit will conduct an objective investigation into this officer-involved shooting,” he promised.
He also said that there were “many” officers present, “all of whom” were wearing body-worn cameras. He said he spoke with District Attorney Margaret Moore and promised that the department “will seek to release those body-worn videos at our earliest opportunity throughout this investigation. Once we’ve reached the point where the impact of the video will not impact the integrity of the investigation. So, again some videos may be available before others.”
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Moore sent FOX 7 Austin a statement, which says in part, “I will approve Chief Manley’s release of body camera videos collected by police officers, as soon as is practicable. In this instance, I do not see how the release of these videos would compromise the investigation or any subsequent prosecution.”
Manley says 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. On Monday, Manley confirmed that officers had searched the car Ramos was killed in, but would not confirm if the department did, or did not find a gun.
“I cannot disclose at this time the outcome of that search because again, we have many witnesses that have yet to be interviewed,” Manley said.
On Monday, both Mayor Steve Adler and Council Member Jimmy Flannigan discussed the shooting in the same breath as a recent investigation into problems with race relations in the Austin Police Department.
Flannigan told FOX 7 Austin, “We will continue to have policy change that allow us to have the safe and trusting community that I know all Austinites want to have.”
Mayor Adler issued a statement through his website, saying he is "very disturbed by the spectator’s video I’ve now seen on which Mike Ramos does not appear to threaten but ends up dead."
"The use of force is the most potent and irreversible of a police officer’s tools and requires trust between officers and the communities they protect," Adler said. "We may not yet know all the facts and we need to before we pass final judgment, but we know what we see, people are hurting, and there are many questions."
In the statement, he says he has asked for a quick and complete assessment of the shooting and an immediate sharing of all relevant information with the community.
Austin Police Association President Ken Casaday gave FOX 7 Austin a statement that reads in part: “Even council members who are not privy to the complete facts of the incident are jumping to conclusions on the case.”
READ THE FULL STATEMENT FROM DA MOORE
The Civil Rights Unit of the Travis County District Attorney’s Office is investigating the shooting death of 42-year-old Michael Ramos that occurred in Southeast Austin on Friday night.
District Attorney Margaret Moore and Dexter Gilford, the Director of the Civil Rights Unit responded to the scene and the Austin Police Department (APD) gave them an immediate and full accounting of the information that developed subsequent to the shooting. The District Attorney’s Office is granted unrestricted access to all aspects of the investigation as it is conducted by the Special Investigations Unit of APD in accordance with the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the DA’s Office and APD. The District Attorney agrees with Chief Brian Manley’s decision to ask the Texas Rangers to assist in the investigation. The DA’s Office has an MOU with the Rangers governing these investigations that is similar to that with APD.
District Attorney Margaret Moore said, “I must emphasize that this is a criminal investigation to determine whether the officer’s conduct constitutes a prosecutable offense. Therefore, collection and preservation of evidence is critical, and every effort must be made to protect the integrity of the investigation. For example, we would not approve the release of certain facts before witnesses are interviewed.
Nevertheless, the District Attorney is strongly committed to maximum transparency to address community concerns. “I will approve Chief Manley’s release of body camera videos collected by police officers, as soon as is practicable. In this instance, I do not see how the release of these videos would compromise the investigation or any subsequent prosecution,” Moore said.
District Attorney Moore added, “I assure the public that the Travis County District Attorney’s Office is deeply committed to a full and fair investigation, and we will take appropriate action as expeditiously as possible.”
The policies of the Civil Rights Unit with regard to investigating and prosecuting officer-involved shootings, are posted on the District Attorney’s website.
READ THE FULL STATEMENT FROM APA PRESIDENT KEN CASADAY
To Our Austin Community:
Last Friday night, representatives from the Austin Police Association responded to an officer-involved shooting in South Austin. Police work, especially this type of call, is dynamic, intense, and can quickly evolve into a life and death situation where critical decisions are made within a matter of milliseconds. It is never easy for an officer to make the decision to use deadly force.
We are already hearing criticism from individuals that don't have all of the investigative details. Even council members who are not privy to the complete facts of the incident are jumping to conclusions on the case. The investigation into all aspects of the officer-involved shooting are well underway and will take time to complete. We ask that people refrain from creating their own narrative. Instead, we urge you to let the facts of the investigation tell the story of what happened last Friday night.
Our thoughts and prayers are with the officers involved and with the deceased's family and friends. These are difficult situations for everyone personally touched by the incident.
Sincerely, APA President, Kenneth Casaday