Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Travis County grand jury decides against charging Christopher Taylor with murder again

A white man in a navy blue suit with a red tie walks out of a court room.
Jay Janner
/
Austin American-Statesman
Austin Police Officer Christopher Taylor leaves the courtroom at the end of the day at his murder trial at the Blackwell-Thurman Criminal Justice Center on Oct. 30, 2023.

Austin police officer Christopher Taylor will no longer face prosecution for the fatal shooting of Mike Ramos in 2020.

The shooting was a month before the murder of George Floyd, and Ramos' name was invoked in racial justice protests in the summer of 2020. Taylor was indicted by Travis County District Attorney José Garza in 2021. That case went to trial late last year, but jurors couldn't agree on the murder charge.

On Wednesday, Garza's office said a grand jury declined to indict Taylor again on a murder charge, effectively ending his office's prosecution of Taylor, though he is still facing another indictment for another fatal on-duty shooting.

“We are surprised and disappointed at this result, but we also respect the grand jury's decision and time,” Garza said in a statement. “Our hearts continue to break for the Ramos family, who we know are still grieving.”

Taylor was charged with murder for shooting Ramos, who was unarmed, during a traffic stop in April 2020. Officers responded to a call at a South Austin apartment complex and attempted to bring Ramos into custody. He fled, and Taylor shot him three times.

Taylor's lawyers insisted he acted within the letter of the law, and that the murder charge was an overreach on the part of Garza's office.

Ken Ervin, one of Taylor's attorneys, said he was "disappointed" that he and his co-counsel Doug O'Connell couldn't take the case to trial again. Taylor's attorneys convinced eight jurors of Taylor's innocence during the weeks-long trial last year. Had the grand jury handed down another murder indictment in the Ramos case, the trial would have started in late September.

"I'm disappointed, frankly, which doesn't sound like something I should say," he said. "I was as confident as ever that we would get [Taylor] acquitted the next time, and I'm a little disappointed that we're not going to get to do that."

But Taylor still faces a murder charge for fatally shooting someone in 2019.

Months after his indictment for Ramos' death in 2021, Garza's office secured a second murder indictment against Taylor for fatally shooting Mauris DeSilva in 2019 while on duty. DeSilva was having a mental health crisis in 2019 when Taylor and another officer responded. DeSilva approached both officers with a knife and Taylor fatally shot him.

It's unclear when, or whether, Travis County District Attorney José Garza's office will pursue that indictment, Ervin said.

"We haven't received any clear direction from them as to whether or not they intend to take our case to trial or dismiss it, as well," he said.

Chris Harris, a criminal justice analyst for the Austin Justice Coalition, said in a statement that the grand jury's decision was disappointing.

"This outcome underscores the urgent need for systemic changes in how we approach law enforcement and accountability," Harris said. "While we respect the grand jury's role, we cannot ignore the broader implications of this decision."

Police officers are seldom prosecuted for fatal on-duty shootings — let alone charged with murder — in Texas. In nearly half a century only one officer in the state has been tried and convicted of murder for an on-duty shooting.

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 aweber@kut.org. Follow him on Twitter @England_Weber.
Related Content