AUSTIN (KXAN) — The Austin Police Department on Monday released new police videos of the Mike Ramos shooting.
The long-awaited, just over 16-minute long video with commentary from the department shows the police perspectives of the deadly shooting that killed Ramos in April. Release of the Critical Incident Briefing video was delayed in June because the Office of Police Oversight was not involved in the initial production.
The produced video features body camera and dash camera video, as well as 9-1-1 call transcripts and summaries of the timeline and who was involved. APD also released supplemental video without commentary.
There were eight officers present at the time of the shooting, but APD released four body cam videos, three dash cam videos and one brief helicopter video. None of the videos show the impact of the shots fired that killed Michael Ramos. The shots can be heard via cameras that were blocked by either vehicles, the officers’ arms or the officers’ rifles.
The Critical Incident Briefing video states materials in it have been redacted and edited to protect privacy rights and make sure the Department isn’t releasing information it’s not allowed to under state law. “Such redactions or edits do not affect the depiction of events presented in this video,” the video shared.
WARNING: The video is graphic and contains profanity
Ramos’ mother, Brenda Ramos, said she could not bring herself to watch the shooting video again.
“Yes, I saw the video the first time but I couldn’t see it the second time, so I had someone on behalf of me to go,” she told KXAN. “He was my only son. I lost my whole family now.”
The video was supposed to be released 60 days after the deadly incident under APD policy, which would have been June 23, before the delay.
“We really want to get it right and remove any of the kinks and it’s important that it really shows the community what transpired on that day,” Office of Police Oversight Director Farah Muscadin said.
Muscadin is monitoring the APD Internal Affairs Unit’s internal investigation into the shooting. The officer who fired lethal rounds, Christopher Taylor, and the officer who shot a non-lethal bean bag round, Mitchell Pieper, have been on administrative duty.
For Brenda Ramos, she says this video does not change her opinion about the shooting, which her family feels was unjustified.
“He never had a gun. Never ever. And apparently to me, it was all set up. And I know that for a fact. And they murdered him,” Brenda Ramos said.
In addition to Ramos’ family and the Office of Police Oversight, the video was reviewed by District Attorney Margaret Moore, officers involved in the incident and city management as part of the project’s final stage before its release to the public on Monday. The District Attorney’s Office reviews the criminal investigation into the incident to determine if any charges should be filed. APD’s Special Investigations Unit is working with the Texas Rangers on the criminal investigation.
Jerry Staton, a former APD officer of 25 years, and current law enforcement trainer on use of force, spoke with KXAN’s Erin Cargile about what he saw in the video.
Last week, Moore said she would not present the case to a grand jury due to her overwhelming defeat in the primary run-off election.
“By overwhelmingly supporting a candidate for District Attorney who ran on a platform of changing how officer-involved shooting cases are prosecuted, I believe the community has clearly stated it would like to see the new administration oversee the prosecution of these cases from beginning to end,” Moore said in a statement. That means it won’t be reviewed until at least January 2021.
Brenda Ramos agreed with that decision.
“I don’t want Margaret Moore to do it after they were making fun of my son’s death,” Brenda Ramos said. “That was uncalled for, disgusting and cruel. And the DA apologized to me on their behalf.”
Attorneys for Officer Christopher Taylor, who fired the only three bullets as Ramos attempted to drive away from the scene, said the critical incident video doesn’t paint a full picture and shouldn’t have been released before the case is presented to a grand jury.
“No judge has ever even ruled on whether or not evidence the government has released will even be admissible at trial,” Doug O’Connell said. “Here we have the government flooding the media and the internet with this selected portion of evidence from a case. It’s not fair and that’s why we haven’t seen it done before.”
Taylor’s attorneys point to supplemental dash camera footage which shows officers appearing to jump back when Ramos pulled away from the parking spot.
“Another scrambles backward and hides behind another patrol vehicle also presumably for protection from Mr. Ramos’ vehicle who I think the inference shows they believe was heading for them,” Ken Ervin said.
Officer body camera footage shows Ramos pulling away from the parking spot but does not show whether or not the car was heading in the direction of any officers. While eight officers were on scene, APD only released body and dash camera footage from five officers.
What the video shows
The Critical Incident Community Briefing video starts with an introduction from Lt. Scott Perry, who explains about the investigative process and the videos used in the critical incident briefing video.
It then begins by showing transcripts of a 9-1-1 call that came in at 6:31 p.m. April 24 in an apartment in the 2600 block of South Pleasant Valley Road. The caller claimed people in a gold Prius were “in the car smokin’ crack and cookin’ meth,” and that a man in a white shirt in the car had pointed a gun at a woman who was a passenger. Later, the called clarified the man was just holding the gun.
Several units responded and met outside the complex around 6:36 p.m. to discuss how to address the situation. It was captured on an officer’s body camera. One officer said he would have his rifle out and said he and others with rifles should keep “a good distance” and not pin in someone who may have a gun.
“We know this car — it’s one we’ve been dealing with and actually looking for,” the officer said. In a briefing after the shooting in April, Chief Brian Manley had said the car Ramos had been in was involved in a theft and evading incident the day before he was shot.
The officers discussed how they would approach, and one drew a diagram of how they would block in the car.
The Critical Incident Briefing shows the shooting from two perspectives: a dash cam video and the body camera video of the officer accused of firing lethal shots at Ramos. The time on the videos is off from each other by a couple seconds.
Dash cam video shows officers drove into the apartment complex around 6:40 p.m.. They began yelling for a man in a gold-and-black Prius to get out of the car and show them his hands. A passenger was in the car at the time and not asked to step out.
At 6:40:26 p.m., according to the time on dashcam video, a man police identified as Michael Ramos opened the car door.
“Michael Ramos, you’re going to listen to everything we say. You need to listen — keep your hands up!” one officer yelled.
At 6:41:09 p.m., the man gets out of the car and officers tell him to walk out from behind the open door and toward them. Separate body camera from Officer Taylor captures an officer asking if they have a “less lethal” weapon ready around this time.
Officers have Ramos lift up his red tank top around 6:41:26 p.m. and turn so they can see if he is armed.
Ramos yells back at the police, asking them at one point “What the f—?” and later saying “Don’t shoot.”
“Man, what the f— did I f—ing do, man?” Ramos yells at 6:42:36 p.m. as one officer tells him repeatedly to listen, turn around and keep his hands up.
In the body camera video, one officer can be heard asking if they have “impact,” a term for a less-lethal round, ready. That same officer instructs another to reposition, and says “impact him” around 6:42:42 p.m., then yells it again eight seconds later.
“I don’t got no f—ing gun, dog!” Ramos yells at 6:42:49 p.m. in the dash cam video.
Ramos and the officers yell back and forth.
Then, an officer yells “I’m gonna impact you.”
“Impact me, for what?” Ramos yells, later telling police to put their guns down.
Shortly after 6:43 p.m., an officer yells “impact him,” and a shot — later identified as a non-lethal bean bag round — goes off. Ramos jumps into the car and closes the door. According to text in the video, the shot hit Ramos in the upper thigh or hip area.
An officer yells multiple times for him to not move and turn off the car. Another yells for him to not leave.
The car pulls out of the space at 6:43:23 p.m. according to the dash camera video as three shots are fired. The car leaves the frame to the left, and five officers with rifles run that direction.
The body camera video shows the car crashed into other parked cars as officers approach.
The commentary on the video says officers on scene called for Austin-Travis County EMS and performed life-saving measures until they arrived. Ramos was taken to the hospital, where he was pronounced dead. The Travis County Medical Examiner is expected to make the final determination into the manner and cause of Ramos’ death.
The woman who was in the car when Ramos drove it away was not hurt and has not been charged.
Austin police also released supplemental videos, which were not included in the Critical Incident Community Briefing video. These do not have commentary on the events included.