AUSTIN, Texas - Witnesses who already testified in the murder trial of APD Officer Christopher Taylor were called back to the stand to testify again.
Officer Taylor is accused of killing Michael Ramos unjustifiably during a police encounter in 2020
The defense told the jury in their opening argument that they would bring the responding officers who testified previously back on the stand. The defense told the jury they wanted to ask these officers questions that the state had not.
Officer Benjamin Hart was the first responding officer back on the witness stand. The jury first heard from him on day three of this trial.
Defense attorney Ken Ervin asked Officer Hart why he did not shoot Ramos. He responded by explaining that he saw Ramos begin to pull off almost at the same time he heard the gunfire.
Ervin then asked Officer Hart what he was thinking when he saw Ramos begin to drive.
"It became very complex. Now he gets in the car, he is starting the car, and we're, I am, in the only exit. The only exit out of that parking spot. I didn't know his intentions, and I was concerned he may try to either go through us or around us, and I didn't think he could go around us," Officer Hart said.
Before cross-examining Officer Hart, the state showed the jury his entire body cam footage from 2020. State Attorney Gary Cobb said they wanted to show the jury what happened before, during, and after the officer-involved shooting.
Cobb then questioned Hart on his belief that Ramos may drive towards officers.
Cobb: "He did not want the police to even point their guns at him, correct?"
Hart: "That's what he said yes sir. He wanted [the guns] down."
Cobb: "So he didn't want the guns pointed at him"
Hart: "Yes, sir."
Cobb: "He explained fear of being shot by the police?"
Hart: "Yes, sir."
Cobb: "So for him to go towards the police would have been a route to suicide, wouldn’t it?"
Hart: "Potentially. Yes, sir."
Cobb: "And it was not an escape route?"
Hart: "Very difficult for him to leave through us."
Before the trial even picked up for the day, there was a short delay in proceedings. The defense wanted to play a redacted portion of Rebecca Garcia's police interview without audio. She was the passenger in the car with Ramos in 2020.
CHRISTOPHER TAYLOR MURDER TRIAL
- State rests its case; defense calls witnesses
- Expert witness claims data shows Ramos was no threat to officers
- Lead investigator in 2020 shooting questioned by defense
The defense says it was important for the jury to see her body language and the fact that she was not handcuffed during the interview. The state did not want that video allowed in court. However, the judge reviewed the video and allowed it to be played for the jury.
The defense played it during testimony with Sgt. Steven McCormick, a Special Investigations Unit detective at the time of the OIS.
Officer Darrell Cantu-Harkless was called to testify again. He was another responding officer in 2020.
The defense asked why he did not shoot. He responded with, "No point of shooting when I think the car is coming towards me."
This murder trial is expected to continue Friday, Nov. 3 with more testimony from Officer Cantu-Harkless.