AUSTIN, Texas - After nearly two weeks of evidence and witness testimony and four days of jury deliberations, a mistrial has been declared in the murder trial of APD officer Christopher Taylor.
The jury was unable to return a unanimous verdict after days of deliberation.
Taylor's charges remain pending, and a new trial will have to be scheduled.
"We are grateful for our community members who served in the jury for this case," said Travis County District Attorney José Garza in a release. "We respect the juror’s decision and thank them for their service."
Judge Blazey said the jury sent out a total of three notes to the court over the course of the four-day deliberation process revealing the deadlock had been an issue since the start.
The first note from the jury came one the first day and the judge instructed them to continue deliberating. The second came on the third day and an Allen charge was implemented urging the jury to make a unanimous decision. The third time, the mistrial was ruled.
This is the second mistrial Judge Blazey has called in this case. The first mistrial was ruled after the court failed to seat a jury in May.
Officer Taylor left the courtroom shortly after the ruling.
"Chris asked us to convey the fact that he's very, very sorry and traumatized at this event. He understands that the Ramos family is grieving and he recognizes that and recognizes this was a tragedy. But as we, [the defense team], said in the course of this trial, while this may have been a tragedy, it is absolutely not murder," said Doug O’Connell, Taylor’s defense attorney.
Taylor's defense attorneys O'Connell and Ken Ervin revealed the hung jury was deadlocked on a vote of 8 to 4 not guilty. They say it will be up to the state to determine whether to retry him with a whole new jury of 12.
"In the event that they intend to do that, obviously we will be ready and we will try this case as many times as it takes to get a not guilty," said Ervin.
Ramos’s mother Brenda was not in the courtroom Wednesday for the ruling, but close friend and activist Chris Harris told the media this is a major blow to her and the community.
"I think it's a miscarriage of justice and we're all pretty upset," he said.
Harris hopes the state does take Officer Taylor back to court.
"The video is clear that Mike was not a threat. He was slowly turning away. The people that were there on the scene that day that saw it live and in person knew that it was unjust and the people that marched in the streets over the next few months knew that it was unjust," he said.
Christopher 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.
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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.
"A man like Mike Ramos is dead and all that can be said is that that was a bad decision? That was [Taylor’s] choice," said Dexter Gilford, state attorney, during closing arguments.
The defense put up a fight and brought in their own set of witnesses and evidence to show Taylor did everything he could.
"The police officers you met in this case, including Chris, followed their training, did everything they were expected to do," said Doug O’Connell, defense attorney, during closing arguments.
WHAT HAPPENED TO MIKE RAMOS?
In April 2020, APD got a call about a man in a car with a gun possibly doing drugs. The man was 41-year-old Ramos, who was then shot and killed. APD later disclosed Ramos was unarmed.
The shooting occurred 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 driver's side of a car, telling police he is unarmed.
Police yell commands at Ramos before Ramos is shot once with a bean bag.
Ramos then gets into a car and attempts to drive away when he is shot three times with a rifle.