AUSTIN (KXAN) — Wednesday, the murder trial for Austin Police Department officer Christopher Taylor ended in a mistrial after a jury could not unanimously decide whether or not Taylor is guilty of murder in the 2020 shooting death of Michael Ramos.
The trial lasted more than two weeks, and the jury deliberated for four full days. This is the second time a mistrial has been declared in this case. Prosecutors will determine whether Taylor will be retried.
Local groups and leaders, including Austin Mayor Kirk Watson, have responded to the trial’s end result. Read their statements below:
Mayor Kirk Watson
“This mistrial will leave just about everyone frustrated, but we can’t let this outcome divide our city,” Mayor Kirk Watson said. “The last few days have intensified the community conversation around public safety and policing, and I understand and support everyone’s right to make their feelings known and their voices heard. I ask that we express our views and emotions in a way that is safe and constructive to the dialogue that needs to continue.
“We have come a long way in terms of policing policies, training and how transparent the City is and will be when these types of incidents occur. We have farther to go. I acknowledge that and, as Mayor, I will continue to push these efforts forward. I can tell you that, from the Chief to rank-and-file officers, those that serve the Austin community are dedicated to wholesale change and a new way of policing that focuses on building trust within the community, improving communication, implementing de-escalation tactics, and understanding mental health needs. Their – and my – number one priority is creating a safer city for everyone.
“And to our police officers, let me say that this community supports you and wants you to be a part of our efforts to create a safer city for all. We need you.
“Finally, I want to thank the members of the jury for their service and time. This was a very weighty and significant decision that was placed on their shoulders, and I appreciate their diligence. I also appreciate Judge Blazey’s work. The jury and the judge are important components to our system of justice and we are reliant on them.”Mayor Kirk Watson
Travis County District Attorney José Garza
“We are grateful for our community members who served in the jury for this case. We respect the juror’s decision and thank them for their service.”Travis County District Attorney José Garza
Combined Law Enforcement Associations of Texas (CLEAT)
Police officers are hired and trained by cities with elected officials at the helm. Officers are regularly discredited and discarded by those same people at the first sign of politically generated outrage. Political winds and trends do not keep families and communities safe; that’s done by the brave men and women of law enforcement.
Officers deserve the best legal representation available to them, and we have consistently shown respect for the outcome of jury decisions. We realize the intricate details of critical incidents combined with the complexity of law enforcement training and legal responsibilities are difficult to process. CLEAT will continue to represent Officer Taylor as long as it takes to clear his name.
CLEAT remains committed to our honored duty of representing our members.CLEAT Spokesperson
Austin Justice Coalition
On Wednesday, November 15, 2023, a Travis County jury returned no verdict in the trial of Austin Police Officer Christopher Taylor for the murder of Michael Ramos on April 24, 2020, resulting in a mistrial. Ramos’ killing sparked immediate and intense protest in Austin, growing the local groundswell of opposition to police violence in advance of May’s police killing of George Floyd and the subsequent worldwide uprisings, and contributing to Austin’s protests in the summer of 2020 being larger and more sustained than in many other cities. Honoring the community outcry over Mike Ramos’ killing and the relationship we’ve built with Mike’s mother Brenda, people affiliated with the Austin Justice Coalition have attended every day of the two-and-a-half-week trial.
This outcome betrays the community’s response to the awful and unjustified killing of Mike Ramos, both in the moment as captured in live cell phone recordings by distraught bystanders, and in the weeks and months that followed as protestors continued to chant Mike’s name in numbers never-before-seen in the City of Austin. While we seethe in solidarity with Mike’s family, particularly his mother Brenda, and we ache at the thought of them having to endure another trial, we demand that Travis County District Attorney Jose Garza retry this case.
We hold fast to the belief that putting people in cages worsens, rather than solves, the issues we face in our society, but given the City of Austin’s failure to fire Christopher Taylor despite him having killed two people in separate incidents while on duty, both resulting in indictment – information withheld from the jury – Taylor must be held to public account for this harmful act so that he never regains the ability patrol our community with a gun and the discretion to use force. We further demand that the City immediately implement the voter-approved Proposition A to better ensure that officers never again receive the opportunity to unjustly harm people on multiple occasions.
Finally, this trial and this outcome underscore the unfitness of the criminal punishment system to provide the healing, truth, and accountability that true justice demands and our community deserves. We remain resolute in the face of this latest injustice and guarantee that Mike’s name will never be forgotten, and our efforts to end police violence and impunity and to build transformative justice alternatives will only strengthen.Austin Justice Coalition
Austin Police Association
The Austin Police Association would like to thank the members of the jury for their work over the past few weeks. The fact that the jury was unable to reach a verdict further establishes what we have been saying for years now, this case never should have seen a court room, and was nothing more than an exercise in anti-police virtue signaling by the Travis County District Attorney’s Office. It is our hope that District Attorney Garza will recognize this mistake, stop wasting tax dollars and dismiss this case against Officer Taylor.
The Austin Police Association continues to fully support and stand with Officer Chris Taylor. If any qualified person is interested in running to be the next District Attorney of Travis County, please reach out. The need for a rational District Attorney is paramount to this county and is beyond the left and right politics that have dominated our age. Common sense and sound judgment must prevail.Austin Police Association
This story will be updated as we receive more statements.