AUSTIN, Texas - Wednesday marked a week of witness testimony in the murder trial of APD Officer Christopher Taylor. During testimony, an expert witness called by the state claimed his data shows Ramos was not a threat to officers during the police encounter in 2020.
Dr. Wilson Hayes testified in Ofc. Taylor’s murder trial as an expert witness for the state. He came prepared with a PowerPoint of his findings, but that PowerPoint was not allowed to be shown in court due to a sustained objection from the defense.
"I believe there is no objective, scientific evidence that Ramos was doing anything other than attempting to flee from the scene in moments just prior to and as Christopher Taylor fired three rounds from his rifle," said Dr. Hayes.
It is a conclusion Dr. Hayes testified to by analyzing scans of the scene and Ramos's prius as well as the autopsy report. Through that data, he says was able to figure out an opinion on how Ramos was positioned before and as the shots came in.
"I believe he was, at the moment, reaching back to grab the wheel again and continue with the right-hand turn," he said.
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Dr. Hayes believes that is how Ramos was positioned when Ofc. Taylor fired the first gunshot on April 24th 2020. He says the wound went through Ramos's right arm. This led him to believe Ramos was turning the steering wheel to the right.
The second shot was the fatal shot to the head. Dr. Hayes demonstrated with a state attorney how he believes Ramos was sitting at that time which was leaning heavily to the right.
He says the third shot went through the driver's side door and only a fragment of the bullet struck Ramos in the abdomen. All these opinions led Dr. Hayes to his conclusion.
"[Ramos] was turning his vehicle sharply to his right, was looking in his direction of travel, not looking at the officers," he said.
State Attorney Dexter Gilford asked him: did Ramos or his vehicle pose a threat to officers on scene?
"Mr. Ramos or his vehicle did not at any time present an imminent threat of death or serious bodily injury to Christopher Taylor or officers or members of the public," said Dr. Hayes in response.
This testimony contradicted Officer Taylor’s written statement. He claimed he shot and killed Ramos to protect his fellow officers from Ramos’s oncoming vehicle.
Defense Attorney Doug O'Connell made sure to ask during cross-examination if Dr. Hayes was attentive to all the details when conducting his research. Dr. Hayes responded with a yes. This prompted O’Connell to say, "well, I hope your answer’s going to be yes because this man’s charged with murder."
O'Connell pointed out Dr. Hayes reworked this conclusion several times before testifying. "There was a period during your analysis that you misinterpreted something?" O’Connell asked.
"Of course. It always happens," Dr. Hayes responded.
The state called use of force expert Seth Stoughton to testify. He previously testified in the Derek Chauvin trial in regard to Chauvin’s use of force with George Floyd. The defense made clear they did not want Chauvin or Floyd to be mentioned during questioning.
Stoughton assessed Officer Taylor’s use of force by watching police footage from that day. He says he believes Ramos did not pose a deadly threat to officers. He also testified Ramos was not fully compliant with officers.
The jury also heard continued testimony from APD Officer Michael Decker. He teaches officers how to conduct high-risk traffic stops.
The defense had him watch how responding officers handled Ramos in 2020. He testified some of their actions did fall within police training, but he did have critiques.
The state is expected to rest sometime during the trial on Wednesday. The defense is then expected to give an opening statement.