AUSTIN (KXAN) — The attorneys representing officers charged in the deaths of Mike Ramos and Javier Ambler expressed concern this week that their clients won’t be able to receive fair trials in Travis County.
Attorneys Doug O’Connell and Ken Ervin criticized Travis County District Attorney José Garza for comments he began making in support of the Ramos and Ambler families even before taking office in January — adding they may petition to move the trials.
“Right now, we’re really focused on the families and making sure that they know that our number one priority will be fighting for justice for them should we prevail in November,” Garza told KXAN’s John Engel in July of last year.
O’Connell and Ervin said their clients weren’t given the opportunity to appear before the grand juries in both cases.
Christopher Taylor — the Austin police officer who shot and killed Ramos on April 24, 2020 — was charged with murder.
Former Williamson County deputies James Johnson and Zachary Camden have been charged with manslaughter for their roles in Ambler’s in-custody death in 2019.
Garza told KXAN on Friday that defense teams don’t need an invitation to participate in a grand jury proceeding.
“We’ve seen what happens now,” Ervin said. “Mr. Garza comes in, and he got a grand jury to indict officers just like he said he would.”
A hearing was held on Friday for Taylor’s case, as a judge clarified he does not need to resign from his position with the Austin Police Department as a condition of his bail. Taylor is currently on administrative leave.
Despite his comments in support of the Ramos and Ambler families, Garza maintains he has never commented on the guilt or innocence of the officers.
“I will continue not to do that,” Garza said. “But I will continue to recognize people lost in this community. I will continue to recognize their pain and their suffering and their families.”
O’Connell and Ervin said the trials likely won’t begin until next year because of delays to criminal trials caused by the coronavirus pandemic.