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Austin Police Officer Charged With Murder For Fatally Shooting Mike Ramos

A mural commemorating Mike Ramos outside La Mexicana on South First Street.
Michael Minasi
A mural commemorates Mike Ramos, who was killed by an Austin police officer in 2019, outside La Mexicana on South First Street.

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Christopher Taylor, the Austin police officer who fatally shot 42-year-old Mike Ramos last April, has been indicted on a murder charge, according to Travis County District Attorney José Garza.

The indictment, which was first reported by the Austin American-Statesman, marks a departure from the norm in Austin and Travis County police violence cases, most of which do not result in criminal prosecution. Taylor's bail is set at $100,000 and he's been charged with first-degree murder.

Garza, who ran on a progressive platform to more aggressively pursue investigations and prosecutions of police misconduct, said in an announcement confirming the indictment that it was a "significant step towards justice."

Attorneys for Taylor decried the indictment, calling it "the fulfillment of a campaign talking point and yet more evidence of anti-police bias."

The grand jury did not indict Mitchell Pieper, an officer who fired a so-called less-lethal round at Ramos during the incident.

The shooting stemmed from a 911 call reporting that someone was using drugs and had a gun in the parking lot of the Rosemont Apartment complex in Southeast Austin. Six officers responded to that call, surrounding the parking lot and detaining Ramos at gunpoint. Ramos attempted to flee in a car toward a dead-end when he was fatally shot.

APD said at the time the responding officers were certain Ramos was armed. He was not.

Ramos' killing coincided with the nationwide uprising against police violence and systemic racism. It was a focal point for local criminal justice activists, who called into question outgoing Police Chief Brian Manley's leadership.

Manley's critics pointed to the lack of urgency surrounding the department's internal investigation of Taylor, a lack of transparency in the investigation process and the unwillingness on the part of the Austin Police Department to fire Taylor outright. Manley announced last month that he was stepping down.

Earlier this year, Travis County District Attorney José Garza said he expected the cases of Ramos and Javier Ambler, who was killed in the custody of Williamson County sheriff's deputies in 2019, would go before a grand jury by April.

Garza ran on a platform in which the Ramos case was front and center: He said he would investigate and prosecute cases of police violence and misconduct. Garza's predecessor, Margaret Moore, passed on investigating Ramos' case.

Ramos' mother, Brenda, sued the City of Austin and the Austin Police Department in federal court over her son's killing late last year.

Andrew Weber is a general assignment reporter for KUT, focusing on criminal justice, policing, courts and homelessness in Austin and Travis County. Got a tip? You can email him at Follow him on Twitter @England_Weber.
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