AUSTIN (KXAN) — The state continued to bring witnesses Friday on the fifth day of trial for Austin Police Officer Christopher Taylor, who was charged with murder in the death of Mike Ramos.
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.
Detective details investigation
The jury heard Friday morning from a retired Austin Police Department detective who was the lead investigator for this shooting in 2020.
Sergeant Dan Mireles testified Friday that the police department’s Special Investigations Unit (SIU) deviated from the standard operating procedure by allowing Taylor’s attorneys to view body camera and in-car camera videos prior to an interview Mireles set up with Taylor nearly two weeks after the shooting.
Typically, the police department allows officers in officer-involved shootings to view video prior to their interview to refresh their memory, Mireles testified. But it is uncommon for attorneys to view the video without the officer present, which is what happened in this case, Mireles said.
Mireles testified that after Taylor’s attorneys viewed the videos presented, they left and shortly after returned with a more than five-page statement from Taylor, instead of providing an interview as scheduled.
“I was disappointed, but it is within their right. They are representing their client,” Mireles said.
The defense argued without the jury present that watching a video after the fact can “corrupt someone’s memory” and claimed they informed Mireles of that the day of the scheduled interview.
Taylor’s statement read in court
Mireles was asked to read Taylor’s written statement in court.
“I observed Ramos’s vehicle began to move forward. I perceived this action as a threat of death or serious bodily injury to myself and several other officers in the path of the vehicle. Perceiving this threat, I fired my rifle, attempting to hit Ramos in the head and to ultimately stop the deadly force threat,” the statement read, in part.
Previous coverage of this trial:
- Medical Examiner walks through autopsy of Mike Ramos in APD officer’s murder trial
- APD officers testify in fellow officer’s murder trial
- ‘I would take that back’: Woman who called 911 testifies in APD officer’s murder 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
Previous day: K-9 unit body camera footage
Jared Retkofsky with the Austin Police Department’s K-9 unit was Thursday’s final witness. His body camera video was shown to the jury.
In that body camera footage, you can see Retkofsky’s K-9 looking for any guns around the apartment complex where Ramos was shot, but none were found.
In the footage, you can hear protesters chanting.
Role of Taylor’s uncle debated in court
There was back and forth Thursday about how much information the jury should have about Taylor’s uncle, who is also employed with the Austin Police Department.
Sheldon Scott Askew was a manager within the unit that oversees police shooting investigations, several officers testified. Askew was also Taylor’s peer support officer and arrived on the scene to act as such.
The state worked to prove that Taylor was treated unfairly because of his family connection. The defense was that Taylor’s uncle played no role in the investigation.
Ultimately, Judge Dayna Blazey ruled that Askew’s role as Taylor’s peer support officer was admissible but that his role as supervisor was not admissible at this stage.
“He was not the supervisor over this particular case,” Blazey said.
Medical Examiner presents autopsy
The Travis County Medical Examiner walked jurors through photos of Ramos’ autopsy, describing the injuries he sustained during the shooting.
Dr. Keith Pinckard said Ramos had three gunshot wounds: one to the head, one to the abdomen and one to the arm. The jury saw photos of those injuries Thursday.
Pinckard also testified that Ramos’ toxicology report showed he had illicit drugs in his system including methamphetamine and what is “known colloquially as bath salts.”