AUSTIN, Texas - The officer-involved shooting death of Austin man Mike Ramos will be presented to a special grand jury, according to Travis County District Attorney Margaret Moore.
In a statement Tuesday, Moore said the decision came after a review of the case with the Civil Rights Director in the Civil Rights Unit of the DA's office.
The shooting was filmed by several witnesses and 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 yelled commands at Ramos before he is shot once with a bean bag by rookie Officer Mitchell Pieper, according to Chief Brian Manley. Ramos then got into a car and attempted to drive away when Taylor shot him three times with a rifle. The car then moved down a short distance and crashed into a parked car. Ramos was transported by EMS to a local hospital where he was later pronounced dead.
Manley later confirmed that Taylor was one of two officers who fired a lethal weapon, killing a man experiencing a mental health crisis in downtown Austin in July 2019.
APD conducted a search of Ramos' car and the area around it and Chief Manley says no firearm was found.
Shortly after the shooting, both Mayor Steve Adler and Council Member Jimmy Flannigan discussed it in the same breath as a recent investigation into problems with race relations in the Austin Police Department.
Flannigan told FOX 7 Austin at the time, “We will continue to have policy change that allow us to have the safe and trusting community that I know all Austinites want to have.”
Protesters took to the streets in downtown Austin this past Saturday, demanding justice for Ramos and George Floyd, an unarmed black man who died a week ago after Derek Chauvin, a Minneapolis police officer, knelt on his neck for an extended period of time. Chauvin has since been charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.
READ THE FULL STATEMENT FROM DA MOORE BELOW:
Over the last few days, we have been confronted by hideous examples of deep racism and discrimination that continue to plague our country. I was sickened and horrified by the death of George Floyd. I denounce his death at the hands of a police officer and offer my heartfelt condolences to Mr. Floyd’s family and loved ones during this incredibly painful time.
As your District Attorney, I am charged with keeping our community safe by seeking justice for everyone regardless of skin color, immigration status, or zip code. I strongly believe in the first amendment right of citizens to protest. However, I do not support the destruction of property. Additionally, any violence and unnecessary force by police officers against peaceful protesters is not tolerable.
There have been many graphic photos which appear to depict peaceful protestors being attacked by officers. If you feel your rights have been violated by a police officer, please file an official complaint with the Office of Police Oversight (OPO) in order to initiate a formal investigation. The OPO provides impartial oversight of the Austin Police Department and its officers.
No person is above the law.
The Civil Rights Unit within the District Attorney’s Office keeps police officers accountable. We insist on thorough investigations, maximum transparency, and impeccable fairness when it comes to officer-involved cases. The Unit is tasked with building community confidence in the way we handle these cases.
Following a review of the case with my Civil Rights Director, we determined the officer-involved shooting death of Michael Ramos of Austin will be presented to a special Grand Jury.
This speaks to our work to address violence and brutality against members of our community. In order to keep our Civil Rights Unit accountable to the public, a Civil Rights Advisory Council was developed. This council is made up of Black and Hispanic community leaders including, NAACP Austin President Nelson Linder, LULAC leader Linda Chavez, and Austin Justice Coalition Executive Director Chas Moore, among others. While I cannot guarantee the outcome of these cases — no honest prosecutor can guarantee convictions — I can guarantee that the process will be meticulously fair. And the decisions made, will be explained to this community.
As a Caucasian woman, I know we have to look within ourselves to begin to address the unfairness and injustice that is evident in our history.
I see you and hear you and I am ready to work alongside you.
Travis County District Attorney