Christopher Taylor case: Travis County grand jury declines to re-indict

A Travis County grand jury has declined to re-indict Austin Police Department officer Christopher Taylor.

"The phone call from the DA's office did come as a surprise," said Ken Ervin, one of the attorneys representing Christopher Taylor.

He says the decision to not re-indict their client on murder charges is good news, but it's not exactly ideal.

"Anytime someone we represent, particularly a police officer, who used force is no longer facing charges, I mean, yes, that is a win, but it is frustrating in the way that it was done," said Ervin.

He is accusing Travis County District Attorney José Garza of using the grand jury to avoid admitting defeat. He also claims Garza withheld evidence from jurors intending to receive a no-true bill decision. 

"Our DA doesn't want to take responsibility for bringing this case to a jury, which should have never been brought," said Ervin. "He doesn't want to take the blame for it, and so he's engineered this mechanism of going back to a grand jury and then blaming them for the reason they're dismissing the case."

This comes after a jury deadlocked last fall on whether they should convict Taylor, who shot and killed Mike Ramos in April 2020.

Last November, a second mistrial was declared in the murder trial of Taylor after four days of jury deliberations left them unable to return a unanimous verdict. The first was declared after a four-day jury selection process failed to seat a jury of 14.

Taylor had been an officer with the Austin Police Department for five years at the time he and several other officers responded to a call in Southeast Austin in 2020. The encounter was caught on police cameras and ended with Taylor shooting Michael Ramos three times.

Officer Taylor was charged with murdering Ramos, which sparked a nearly two-week trial three years later with witnesses and evidence led by the state to show a jury his actions were not justified.


This sparked a social justice movement in Austin.

Scott M. Hendler, CEO of Hendler Flores Law, which is representing Mike Ramos' family, sent the following statement to FOX 7 Austin:

"Brenda Ramos and her family are appalled and dismayed at the incomprehensible decision of the grand jury to no bill APD Officer Chris Taylor. 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." 

Travis County District Attorney José Garza also released the following statement: 

"We are surprised and disappointed at this result, but we also respect the grand jury's decision and time. Our hearts continue to break for the Ramos family, who we know are still grieving."

Meanwhile, Taylor's lawyers said they'd like to see an acquittal.

"The next step is us considering whether we want to accept this dismissal because we may not," said Ervin.

Taylor has also been indicted for another officer-involved shooting that happened before Ramos' death.

In 2019, APD received a call about a man, Dr. Mauris DeSilva, holding a knife to his throat during a mental health crisis.

Both Officer Taylor and Officer Karl Krycia ended up firing their weapons when police say DeSilva began walking towards them. At the time, the APD Chief said DeSilva was at least seven to ten feet away from them.

Lawyers have argued Taylor fired his weapon in self-defense.

Taylor's attorneys, Ken Ervin and Doug O’Connell, released a statement:

"It’s important the citizens of Travis County understand exactly what happened today: our elected District Attorney Jose Garza abused the grand jury system to create a false reason for his dismissal of the murder charge against Officer Taylor. Mr. Garza wants the public to believe his hands are now tied and he has no choice but to dismiss the case. This is a false narrative and it’s an attempt to avoid embarrassment.

As of today, Mr. Garza still has a pending murder indictment against Officer Taylor for the shooting death of Mike Ramos, and Mr. Garza can still legally proceed to trial on that indictment. This latest grand jury no-bill is of zero legal consequence to the existing indictment and it does not prevent him from taking the existing indictment to trial a third time.

Mr. Garza had no legitimate reason to go back to the grand jury. The incident occurred over four years ago, the facts have not changed during that time, and he already has a murder indictment. The only thing that changed was how the grand jury voted: the first time in favor of an indictment, the second time not in favor of an indictment.

In our opinion, what happened today confirms two things:

First, as we have stated repeatedly, Mr. Garza is selectively disclosing or withholding evidence from grand
juries to ensure they issue indictments against law enforcement officers. He is not giving grand juries complete pictures of all the facts. Nothing else explains why the first grand jury voted to indict Officer Taylor while the second grand jury voted not to indict him presumably on the exact same facts. What changed was what evidence Mr. Garza decided each grand jury would receive.

Second, it tells us Mr. Garza is unwilling to be honest with the public and admit he should not have indicted or prosecuted Officer Taylor. Mr. Garza could simply dismiss the existing case with a one-page motion, but that would constitute an admission of defeat. Instead, Mr. Garza abused the grand jury system in a new way (for him) – he presented the second grand jury with facts designed to obtain a no bill, he obtained that no-bill, and now he’s blaming the second grand jury for why he must dismiss the
indictment issued by the first grand jury.

No dismissal is required by what happened today. Mr. Garza is dismissing the case because he knows no Travis County jury will believe Officer Taylor committed any crime, and because he wants to avoid yet another embarrassing defeat involving a trial against a law enforcement officer."