Family of Austin man shot, killed by APD opposes SB 2209

Family members of an Austin man who was shot and killed by an Austin police officer testified against Senate Bill 2209 Monday, April 3. The bill would place restrictions on civilian oversight powers for firefighters and police officers.

"On Nov. 15, 2022, my brother Rajan was killed by Austin police," brother of Rajan Moonesinghe, Mark Moonesinghe said.

Mark and his mother, Ruth Moonesinghe, said they’re disappointed in the response from the Austin Police Department since the killing.

"The police version changed once they were made aware of the Ring camera evidence which contradicted the story they were telling," mother of Rajan Moonesinghe, Ruth Moonesinghe said.

"How can you expect the police to hold themselves accountable when the chief has shown his willingness to twist facts, protect bad behavior, and limit public outcry," Mark Moonesinghe said.

They said that’s why civilian oversight is important, and they oppose Senate Bill 2209.

"Without civilian oversight, the police investigation has focused on blaming Rajan instead of the officers whose conduct resulted in the loss of my son's life," Ruth Moonesinghe said.

Senate Bill 2209 filed by Senator Kelly Hancock (R-North Richland Hills) amends current law relating to the municipal civil service. It prohibits an investigation for firefighters and police officers from being performed by a civilian oversight commission, it states letters and documents related to misconduct are confidential while the investigation is pending, and a person is not eligible to serve on a civilian oversight commission if convicted of a felony or a crime of moral misconduct.


Equity Action is the organization that collected signatures for the Austin Police Oversight Act that’s on the May 6 ballot. They’re working to increase transparency and restore the police oversight powers that were stripped away in 2021 during an arbitration decision.

A representative with the organization said this bill is a direct attempt to preempt that ordinance. If the bill passes, portions of the ordinance wouldn’t be able to be implemented even if voters passed it.

"Because of the immense power that police possess, a minimum, a bare minimum oversight, transparency, as would any government entity with power over people's lives, I'd hope you'd all demand," Equity Action Board President Chris Harris said.

The bill still needs approval in the Senate and the House.