AUSTIN (KXAN) — Opening statements wrapped up Monday in the trial of Austin Police Officer Christopher Taylor, who was charged with murder in the death of Mike Ramos. Prosecutors continued to present witnesses Tuesday in the second day of the APD officer’s trial.
Taylor shot and killed Ramos, 42, during a confrontation with police back in April 2020 at a south Austin apartment complex parking lot. Taylor is on administrative leave with APD.
Ramos’ girlfriend on the stand
One of the final witnesses jurors heard from Tuesday was Ramos’ girlfriend, Rebeca Garcia. She was with Ramos when he was shot and killed.
She told the jury she was in the passenger seat of Ramos’ car when police arrived and that one of the police officers on scene indicated she needed to get out of the car, so she did.
Garcia said she was on the ground, as police instructed, when Ramos started to drive away and was shot.
“It’s hard to find, to trust people, especially the police,” Garcia said. “The police every time I see APD…I’m never going to forget that night and how, what was done. It’s scary.”
Testimony from woman who called 911 on Ramos
A woman who called 911 on Ramos, which led to his fatal interaction with law enforcement, admitted to jurors Tuesday that she told dispatch Ramos had a gun despite never seeing one.
Scott told the jury she went to pick her son up from the apartment complex where Ramos was sitting in his Prius. She said he was doing drugs, and that neighbors were upset he was in the parking lot.
“If I could take anything back, I would take that back, sir. I would take that back, sir. I never seen that man with a gun,” Meko Scott said tearfully. She apologized to Ramos’ family.
Prosecutors played the 911 call between Scott and a dispatcher, where Scott told dispatch several times that Ramos had a gun.
“I feel like I’m the one who killed him,” she told the defense.
Photos of crime scene presented Tuesday morning
The first expert witness called to the stand Tuesday morning walked the jury through photos taken of the crime scene after the shooting.
Sergeant Shelly Holmes was on the Austin Police Department’s special investigations unit and was called in for the shooting in 2020 to work crime scene management, she said.
The photos shown to the jury included the bean bag round fired at Ramos, shell casings ejected from Taylor’s rifle and Ramos’ car after he was removed for medical treatment. Ramos’ mother had to exit the courtroom when a photo was shown of blood near the vehicle.
The photographs also showed a hatchet with a cover on it, what is believed to have been drugs and drug paraphernalia and stolen items — license plates, a passport, check books and a credit card — inside of the car Ramos was driving.
The jury also heard from Mark Johnson Tuesday, the CEO of Visual Law Group, a forensic visualization company. The company put together a digital recreation of the scene which could analyze where officers, and even Ramos, were standing and what they may have seen on the scene at any given moment.
Previous coverage of this trial:
- Witness video shown in first day of APD officer murder case
- Opening statements wrap up in murder trial involving APD officer
- Jury selected in APD officer’s murder trial
- Judge grants mistrial motion in APD officer murder case
First day: Opening statements
After Taylor pleaded not guilty, attorneys representing him did not give opening statements Monday. It meant the jury heard largely from prosecutors on the first day of trial.
Prosecutors used maps, photos and screenshots of body-worn camera footage to walk jurors through the events leading up to Ramos’ death in their opening statements. The state is working to prove Ramos was not a threat to police or the public when he got in his car and attempted to flee a scene involving officers. Taylor fired three shots, killing him.
“He [Taylor] has made a decision. A critical decision to violate his training…That decision is that if the car moves at all he’s going to shoot,” the prosecution told the jury in opening statements.
First day: Witness video
The state’s first witness was Tavon Jefferson, a woman who lived in the south Austin apartment complex where Ramos was shot and killed. She told the jury she stepped outside to meet with members of her family and “was swarmed around with APD.”
Jefferson said Ramos was telling police he wouldn’t walk toward them — despite their commands — because they had guns pointed at him. She also said she did not believe Ramos had a gun and that she believed he had made that clear to police. Jefferson recorded some of the interaction.
A jury watched Jefferson’s cell phone video of the incident, which shows the moments leading up to the shooting of Ramos. After back and forth between officers and Ramos , police fire a bean bag round at Ramos, he then gets into a vehicle and starts to drive off when shots are fired.
After the shots are fired, Jefferson can be heard in the chaotic video continuously repeating the phrase “that’s wrong.” Jefferson told the jury she later walked around to the other side of her apartment complex building and saw Ramos’ body.
First day: Early witnesses from prosecutors
The state briefly put Ramos’ sister on the stand. She detailed how she had spoken to her brother roughly a year prior to his death about his drug use. She said Ramos was working toward getting help, but didn’t know where to start. At that time prosecutors also showed photos of Ramos and his family to the jury.
The jury also heard from several Austin Police Department officers who interacted with Ramos in incidents prior to the one that resulted in his death, including an officer who put a “be on the lookout” or “BOLO” alert out on the car Ramos was driving when he was shot by Taylor.
They also briefly heard from a man who called 911 after seeing Ramos in his neighborhood. That man said his neighborhood Facebook group had frequently posted about Ramos, which alerted him to the possibility that Ramos was doing something illegal.
That 911 call led to an officer putting a BOLO alert out for Ramos’ car.
“I don’t think this person [Ramos] ever engaged with anyone, it was kind of in and out,” Ron Jackson said. He described the Facebook posts as pointing to Ramos for possible porch thefts in the area.
The jury also heard before the end of the day from a forensic scientist who specializes in the reconstruction of shootings out of Albuquerque.