AUSTIN, Texas - Travis County District Attorney José Garza has announced that he intends to present the officer-involved shooting cases of Michael Ramos and Javier Ambler to a Travis County Grand Jury before the expiration of its term on March 30, 2021.
In September 2020, then-Travis County District Attorney Margaret Moore announced that the office would defer the presentation of the Ramos and Ambler cases until DA Garza assumed office.
In addition to the Ramos and Ambler cases, there are six additional cases involving an officer-involved shooting or death in the custody of a law enforcement officer all of which occurred prior to Garza’s tenure as DA.
The oldest of these cases dates back to March of 2018.
The DA's Office will be presenting each of them to a Travis County Grand Jury.
Officials say with the exception of a sexual misconduct case and the Amber and Ramos cases, the DA's Office plans to present the cases in chronological order of the date of the incident.
After the expiration of the current Grand Jury’s term in March, the DA's Office says it will be empaneling additional grand juries to hear these cases and that it expects that presentation of these cases will begin by June of this year.
Additionally, DA Garza released details about two officer-involved shootings that took place in the first week of 2021. He disclosed that his office’s prosecutors responded to the scene within hours of the incident occurring and are actively investigating the incidents. In keeping with policy, the DA's Office will present both cases to the grand jury.
"Already this year, there have been two officer-involved shootings. In total, two people were injured, and Alexander Gonzales was killed. It is a tragedy for our community, and I would like to express my sympathies to the family of Mr. Gonzales, and to everyone who has been affected," said Garza in a news release. "Our community has been clear that when law enforcement officers use deadly force, prosecutors must investigate the case quickly and with transparency, to ensure that no one is above the law."
WHO IS JAVIER AMBLER?
Javier Ambler was killed during an altercation with Williamson County deputies. On March 28, 2019, deputies pursued Ambler's car from Williamson County into Travis County where he died while deputies were trying to take him into custody. Deputies pursued him because he allegedly failed to dim his headlights to oncoming traffic.
After crashing his vehicle near the intersection of Saint John’s and Bennett, Williamson County deputies struggled to handcuff Ambler, resulting in the use of a stun gun several times.
Police body camera video from the Austin Police Department of Ambler’s death shows the gasping 400-pound man telling the deputies that he wants to comply with their demands but that he can’t because he has congestive heart failure.
"I am not resisting," Ambler cries. "Sir, I can’t breathe. ... Please. ... Please."
WHO IS MIKE RAMOS?
Mike Ramos was shot and killed during an officer-involved shooting by Austin police officer Christopher Taylor, who was previously under investigation for shooting another man months prior.
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 by Taylor on scene. 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 drivers-side of a car, telling police he is unarmed.
Police yell commands at Ramos, before Ramos is shot once with a bean bag. Austin Police Chief Brian Manley says the less-lethal weapon was fired by rookie Austin Police Officer Mitchell Pieper.
Ramos then gets into a car and attempts to drive away when another officer, Christopher Taylor shoots him three times with a rifle. Manley 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.