Austin Police Department

Brenda Ramos speaks to a gaggle of reporters in front of a mural honoring her son.
Julia Reihs / KUT

The mother of Mike Ramos, a Black and Hispanic man who was shot and killed by an Austin police officer in April, is calling on the department to act on investigations into the officer.

Screenshot via YouTube

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KUT and the Austin Monitor held a series of forums over the past few weeks with candidates running for Austin City Council. Not everyone can watch an hour-long forum, though, so we picked three big questions from each event and are providing text of the candidates' answers here. 

The Austin Police Department Headquarters.
Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

Poor supervision and untrained staff have long plagued the Austin Police Department’s DNA crime lab, forcing it to close briefly in 2016 and then to be overseen by the state.

So, what will a future lab look like?

Protesters march in downtown Austin during a Black Lives Matter demonstration in June.
Michael Minasi / KUT

A new political action committee is trying to put a state law governing police oversight on the ballot next May.

“I think it’s really unique and kind of amazing that [this petition could] allow the voters in Austin to decide if we want to change how policing is done in Austin,” Eric Wikman, treasurer of the Police Oversight Project, told KUT.

A billboard on I-35 warns: "Austin Police Defunded, Enter At Your Own Risk!"
Michael Minasi / KUT

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Two billboards stationed alongside I-35 as drivers enter Austin read: "Austin Police Defunded, Enter At Your Own Risk!"

The billboards, paid for by the Texas Municipal Police Association, were erected after City Council voted in August to cut millions from the police budget.

Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

Detectives have not found any motive for the shooting death of John M. Young, 60, who was found at a South Austin bus stop with at least one gunshot wound just before 5:30 a.m. on Sept. 16. Austin-Travis County Interim Health Authority Dr. Mark Escott pronounced him deceased not long after. 

Teams put red crosses on gear to indicate they are volunteer medics at a demonstration against police brutality and systemic racism, in Austin on May 31.
Michael Minasi / KUT

A woman filed a federal civil rights lawsuit Wednesday against the City of Austin and an unidentified Austin police officer, claiming the officer used excessive force as she was helping an injured person during a Black Lives Matter protest on May 31.

The podium at Austin Police headquarters
Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

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Four women filed a class-action lawsuit Monday accusing Austin and Travis County law enforcement of mishandling their sexual assault cases because of gender discrimination. A similar lawsuit filed by eight other sexual assault survivors was dismissed by a federal judge in February

Protesters clash with police in riot gear in downtown Austin on Aug. 1.
Jordan Vonderhaar for The Texas Tribune

Heading into the November election, Gov. Greg Abbott has made clear that he believes policing should be top of mind for all Texas candidates and voters.

Austin police gather on I-35 in May to remove protesters demonstrating against police brutality off the highway. Gov. Greg Abbott and other state officials have criticized the city's decision to cut police funding.
Miguel Gutierrez Jr. / KUT

Gov. Greg Abbott is considering a legislative proposal that, if passed, would put the control of the Austin Police Department under state authority.

Protesters hold a sign saying "Defund Police" in front of Austin Police headquarters in May.
Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

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Twenty years ago, trombones were echoing in Courtney Santana's ears – trombones like the ones in Charlie Brown cartoons.

There she was, crumpled on parking lot asphalt. Austin police officers were holding her two kids, including her 8-month-old son, who had nearly been shot in the head after her partner's pistol fell out of a coat and discharged.

Gov. Greg Abbott
Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

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In the hopes of discouraging cities from reducing money spent on police, Gov. Greg Abbott said Tuesday he and other state leaders support the passage of a bill halting a property tax revenue increase for any Texas city that cuts its police budget.

Austin police point guns at protesters being forced off I-35.
Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon / KUT

The “beanbag" rounds law enforcement agencies call "less lethal” munitions can cause serious injuries and should not be used for crowd control, a group of doctors from Dell Medical School at UT Austin wrote Friday in the New England Journal of Medicine.

The Austin City Council discusses the budget during a virtual meeting Wednesday that was projected on screen at the Palmer Events Center.
Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

The $4 billion budget Austin City Council adopted Thursday includes plans to reduce the police budget by about a third – $150 million. Twenty million dollars is being cut immediately, with $3.5 million going to Austin-Travis County EMS, and $6.5 million going to housing assistance for people living on the street.

People sit spaced apart with masks on watching a screen showing Austin City Council members.
Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

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Austin is immediately cutting $20 million from the city’s police budget – and council members are vowing to make bigger reductions in the coming year.

Protesters outside Austin City Hall on July 11 call for defunding the police department.
Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

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Austin City Council members are proposing cuts to the Austin Police Department budget totaling roughly $149 million, or 34% of the department’s current budget.

Council members are scheduled to vote on the city's budget for the upcoming fiscal year as early as Wednesday and no later than Friday.  

Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

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Addressing a city that has ground to a halt amid a pandemic, save for frontline workers who can’t stay home and protestors in the streets demanding cuts to the police budget, Austin Mayor Steve Adler said this time of turmoil is a chance to rebuild a more equitable city.

Protesters outside Austin City Hall on July 11 call for defunding the police department.
Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

The second public hearing on the City of Austin’s proposed budget is taking place today. Speakers are phoning in to a virtual City Council meeting to tell council members their thoughts on the proposal.

A mural on La Mexicana in South Austin commemorates Mike Ramos, who was shot and killed by an Austin police officer in April.
Michael Minasi / KUT

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As a kid, Mike Ramos used to walk to get pastries for his grandmother every week from La Mexicana, the panaderia that's been a mainstay on South First Street for 30 years. Just a block away from where he and his mother Brenda Ramos lived on Annie Street, the bakery's south wall now bears two murals commemorating Mike, who was shot and killed by Austin Police Officer Christopher Taylor in April.

The South First Street bridge in downtown Austin is closed in both directions as more than a dozen law enforcement units respond to a situation.
Cassandra Clark

A standoff between law enforcement officers and someone in a vehicle on the South First Street bridge in downtown Austin has ended.

Officers had closed the bridge and nearby Cesar Chavez Street, and the City of Austin was asking people to stay away from the area during the standoff.

Screenshot from APD video via YouTube

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Video footage released Monday of the shooting of Mike Ramos shows the 42-year-old pleading with Austin police officers to put their guns down, telling them he doesn't have a weapon and that they are scaring him.

APD Officer Christopher Taylor shot and killed Ramos, who was Black and Hispanic, in late April.

Protesters call for the defunding of the Austin Police Department outside City Hall on July 11.
Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

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Austinites waited with their phones on hold, some for over an hour, to tell city council members on Thursday that proposed cuts to the police department’s budget were too small. Residents seeking more profound changes called the cuts a “pittance,” “insulting” and a “slap in the face.”

Austin Police Chief Brian Manley
Julia Reihs / KUT

 

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Before dawn on March 21, 2018, interim Austin Police Chief Brian Manley stood on the side of I-35 in Round Rock, flanked by federal officers, and announced that the suspect in a series of bombings was dead.

Austin Police officers stand outside APD headquarters during protests against police killings and systemic racism.
Michael Minasi / KUT

The Austin Police Department says it will delay the release of body camera footage from officers who caused serious injuries to demonstrators during the first weekend of protests against police killings and systemic racism in Austin.

Student protesters hold a sign outside Austin City Hall on Saturday calling for the city to defund police and invest more in the community.
Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

The City of Austin is proposing to reduce the Austin Police Department’s planned budget by $8.1 million, despite calls for much bigger cuts to the department. 

Signs on Spencer Cronk's lawn call for defunding the Austin Police Department.
Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

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The front lawn of the City of Austin's highest-paid employee got some new lawn ornaments Thursday.

Organizations urging radical change to how the city spends money erected more than two dozen lawn signs outside Austin City Manager Spencer Cronk’s house. One sign read, “Increase funding for Austin Public Health to survive the pandemic and beyond,” another “Protect and create more low-income housing.”

An Austin police officer walks by a line of police cars.
Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

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The Austin Police Department announced Thursday it will stop ticketing and arresting people for low-level and nonviolent marijuana offenses – six months after the City Council asked the chief to adopt the policy and he refused.

An officer points a shotgun at a protester.
Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon / KUT

The Austin Police Department has named five officers it says may be responsible for seriously injuring people demonstrating during the first weekend of protests against systemic racism and police violence.

Graffiti references the police killings of George Floyd and Mike Ramos on the side of Austin Police Department headquarters.
Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

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The release of body camera footage in the police killing of Mike Ramos is being delayed, the city said Sunday. The Austin Police Department had planned to release the video Monday, but failed to follow proper procedure, according to City Manager Spencer Cronk.

Austin Police Chief Brian Manley, with City Manager Spencer Cronk and Austin Mayor Steve Adler behind him.
Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

Austin Police Chief Brian Manley will stay in his position, a city spokesperson confirmed in an email Thursday.

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