Austin city manager delays release of Mike Ramos shooting video until policy is met

Austin

A memorial was created near the site of Mike Ramos’ death during a police incident. Photo: Yoojin Cho/KXAN

AUSTIN (KXAN) — The release of Austin Police Department video from an April officer-involved shooting that resulted in the death of Michael Ramos has been delayed due to lapses with a new policy, according to a City of Austin statement.

The City’s statement says a new policy requires APD to produce and share a “Critical Incident Community Briefing” video under certain circumstances. An initial video has been produced by APD, but the Office of Police Oversight is required to consult and provide feedback for the video — which has not happened.

Additionally, the City says “the policy allows certain relevant parties to privately view the video prior to public release. Unfortunately, the Ramos family was presented with a viewing of the video prior to the Office of Police Oversight having provided feedback.”

Here’s is the Austin Police Department’s full policy:

117.2.6   NOTIFICATIONS & CONSULTATIONS Absent exigent circumstances, reasonable attempts shall be made to notify and, where appropriate, consult with the following individuals or entities at least forty-eight hours prior to the release of video imagery:

(a) Officers depicted in the video and/or significantly involved in the use of force.

(b) Subject upon whom force was used.

(c) If the subject is deceased, the next of kin will be notified.

(d) If the subject is a juvenile, the subject’s parents or legal guardian will be notified.

(e) If the subject is represented by legal counsel, that representative will be notified.

(f) District Attorney’s Office and the City Attorney’s Office.

(g) Office of Police Oversight.

(h) Other individuals or entities connected to the incident as deemed appropriate.

APD shall consult and seek feedback from the Office of Police Oversight during the production of the video for public release.

City Manager Spencer Cronk has directed the video be withheld from the public “until the Office of Police Oversight has had an opportunity to fully review the video and ensure that all requirements of the policy are appropriately met.”

On April 24, Ramos was killed during an incident with APD, in which officers responded to a 911 call in southeast Austin.

APD reports Ramos initially got out of the car as he was asked to do, but he yelled back at the officers and did not continue to comply with the officers’ commands. After an officer fired a bean bag round at Ramos, the 42-year-old got back in his car and attempted to drive away.

The custodial death report filed by APD said that Officer Christopher Taylor, who had been with the department for five years, feared that Ramos would use the car as a deadly weapon and fired his patrol rifle, striking Ramos. Ramos’ car collided with a parked car and came to a stop, the report said, and Ramos was declared dead less than an hour after the initial call.

Advocates from the Austin Justice Coalition have spoken out against the delay of the video, echoing their call for the resignation of Austin Police Chief Brian Manley due the way the release of the video is being handled.

“Community organizations agreed to a policy that would allow APD to provide an edited and compiled version of body camera video ONLY because the proposed policy gave Farah Muscadin, our Director of Police Oversight, a role in the process of creating that video,” a press release from the organization read in part. “We spoke clearly to Manley and his team as the new policy was discussed, emphasizing that the community would not trust APD to give a neutral and fair edit of the available video, and that we needed to know that someone in the process would be the eyes and ears of the public in this process.” The release went on to say that, “it is a testament to Muscadin and her staff that we agreed to this edited ‘explainer video’ approach as long as she was involved.”

But advocates argue that she was not involved, and are pushing for the Office of Police Oversight to be involved in compiling the video for release.

KXAN reached out to Muscadin for comment, but she deferred to the city’s statement about the policy.

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