Two APD officers indicted on murder charges in death of Dr. DeSilva

The Travis County District Attorney’s office has indicted two APD officers on murder charges in the 2019 death of Dr. Mauris DeSilva.

The DA’s office announced the indictments of Officer Christopher Taylor and Officer Karl Krycia on Friday. Ofc. Taylor is currently facing another murder indictment for his role in the death of Mike Ramos in Spring 2020.

Lawyers for Ofc. Taylor were joined by Austin Police Association President Ken Casaday at a press conference on Friday.

"This is another political prosecuting by DA Garza and it’s not going to be tolerated," said Casaday. "Before he ever saw the evidence or knew all the facts of the investigation, he ran a campaign on prosecuting Chris Taylor and he’s done that."

The shooting occurred in July 2019, though APD has yet to release the body camera footage. 911 operators received a call about a man armed with a knife and possibly having a mental health crisis. According to APD, when officers arrived and confronted the man, he did not comply and approached the officers while holding his knife.

"The officers waited until he was 3-4 feet away with the knife, well within striking range, before they had to defend themselves using lethal force," said Ken Ervin, one of the attorneys representing Ofc. Taylor. "Perhaps Mr. Garza would prefer they go ahead and just get stabbed first prior to using any sort of force to defend themselves."

One officer deployed a taser while Ofc. Taylor and Ofc. Krycia fired their guns.

"There’s never been a more clear cut, legally justified officer-involved shooting in Travis County history," said Doug O’Connell, also representing Ofc. Taylor.

Ofc. Taylor’s attorneys said that a use-of-force expert - who had advised the DA’s office that the officers’ actions were justified - was not asked to testify at the grand jury proceeding. A spokesperson for the DA’s office responded to the allegations with the following statement:

"The allegations that DA Garza, or anyone acting in his capacity, would not let Dr. Williams testify are false. The State presented a thorough and balanced grand jury presentation consistent with its obligations under article 2.01 of the Code of Criminal Procedure. Due to grand jury secrecy laws, we are prevented from disclosing information about the grand jury’s proceedings."

Attorneys for Ofc. Taylor also drew comparisons to the death of Garrett Foster - another case where they believe exculpatory evidence was not shared with the grand jury.

"It’s the same pattern, it’s the same thing that we’ve seen before," said O’Connell. "It just shows this is not about justice, it is not about doing the right thing, fulfilling ethical responsibilities, it is about indicting police officers at any cost."

Earlier this month, a judge dismissed claims by the lead investigator in the Foster case that the DA's office tampered with evidence during grand jury proceedings

In a statement shared with FOX 7, the lawyers for Dr. DeSilva called the indictments "a step toward justice for the DeSilva family."

"Officer Taylor has now been indicted twice for murder. If the City of Austin had better trained police officers to handle mental health episodes Dr. Desilva would still be alive today," said the statement in part. "The City of Austin must be held accountable for their long history of failures in responding to mental health crises."

Ofc. Krycia’s attorneys also released a statement, saying in part,

"After the incident, investigations were completed by the Austin Police Department Special Investigation Unit and Internal Affairs. After such review, Chief Brian Manley returned Officer Krycia to full duty with the Austin Police Department. While we realize any loss of life is tragic, we do believe that the actions were reasonable under the facts and justified under the law."

ADP Chief Chacon responded on Friday in response to the indictments. The full statement is below:

The Austin Police Department (APD) is aware that a Travis County Grand Jury indicted Officers Karl Krycia and Christopher Taylor for their actions during an incident that occurred on July 31, 2019. Multiple officers, including Officers Krycia and Taylor, responded to a downtown condominium after 9-1-1 received several calls advising a man was banging loudly on emergency exit doors and walking around holding a knife to his throat. The man was later identified as Dr. Mauris DeSilva. When officers arrived, they saw Dr. DeSilva on security cameras walking in a 5th floor hallway, still in possession of the knife. Officers entered one of the elevators with a member of the property’s security team to make contact with Dr. DeSilva to ensure his safety and the safety of others in the building.

As the elevator door opened to the 5th floor, Officers saw Dr. DeSilva with his back towards the officers and the knife to his throat. Officers began giving commands to Dr. DeSilva to drop the knife while they were still in the elevator. Dr. DeSilva then turned facing the Officers while lowering the knife to his side and advanced towards the Officers. As Dr. DeSilva approached the Officers, Officers Krycia and Taylor fired their duty weapons and another Officer deployed a Taser. Dr. DeSilva was transported to the hospital for medical treatment, but later died from his injuries.  

To protect the integrity of the criminal proceedings in this matter, APD has delayed reaching any conclusion in its administrative review of the Officers’ actions.

APD respects the role the Grand Jury holds in the criminal justice process and will continue to cooperate with the District Attorney’s Office on this case. As with anyone charged with an offense, these officers are presumed innocent unless found guilty through the criminal process. In respect of their right to a fair trial, we will not be commenting further. Officer Krycia has been placed on paid administrative duty at this time and will remain in this status through the conclusion of the criminal proceedings. Officer Taylor remains on leave without pay in connection with a critical incident that occurred on April 24, 2020.

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