AUSTIN, Texas - The murder trial for Austin Police Officer Christopher Taylor picked up Monday, Oct. 23 with opening statements.
A jury will decide whether Officer Taylor was justified when he fired the three shots during an officer-involved shooting in 2020 that killed Michael Ramos.
"All three shots struck Michael Ramos. The second one being the one that left catastrophic and irrecoverable injuries," said state attorney Dexter Gilford.
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On April 23, 2020, a 911 caller alerted police about a man sitting in his car doing drugs outside an apartment complex in Southeast Austin. The caller also informed police the man had a gun. The man has been identified as Michael Ramos, and it was later confirmed he was not armed.
After being shot with a beanbag round, Ramos can be seen in a cell phone video shown in court getting in his car and driving off. Officer Taylor can then be heard shooting three times.
In the state’s opening statements, a portion of Officer Taylor's statement after the shooting was shown to the jury, which said he shot Ramos to prevent him from killing or seriously injuring several officers in front of him.
It is a move the state prosecutor says violated Taylor’s police training since they claim no one was directly in front of Ramos's car.
The state called APD Officer Kevin Jones as a witness to back that statement. "We generally do not shoot at moving vehicles barring other circumstances," he said.
CLEAT, the Combined Law Enforcement Association of Texas, took to social media to support Officer Taylor, saying: "The trial for @Austin_Police Officer Christopher Taylor begins today. No officer leaves home anticipating their life will never be the same. They face life or death, split-second decisions w/o benefit of hindsight or time. CLEAT stands by our members today & every day."
The defense reserved its right to an opening statement, but did ask Officer Jones a follow-up question regarding the protocol for shooting at vehicles.
When Ken Ervin, defense attorney for Taylor, asked, "what circumstances might justify shooting into a vehicle?" Officer Jones responded with, "when that vehicle is being used as a weapon driving at you or driving at other innocent citizens."
It was revealed to the jury that Ramos had been tied to other crimes in the area. The day before, police were on the lookout for his gold Prius, a car believed to have been stolen.
Ramos was also said to have a substance abuse problem. His sister testified to the jury that he wanted to change.
"He told me that he wanted to get himself together," she said.
The state called forensic scientist Michael Haag to the witness stand. Haag, who works on reconstruction of shooting incidents, provided the jury with a 3D rendering of the bullet impacts on Ramos’s car.
According to the rendering, one gunshot was marked under the driver’s side window. The second was not clearly marked because it was believed to have shattered the driver’s side window. The third gunshot was by the driver’s side keyhole.
The trial was cut about 45 minutes short due to the state running out of witnesses for the day.
The trial will resume Tuesday, Oct. 23 at 9 a.m.