AUSTIN (KXAN) — Prosecutors have nearly wrapped up their case against Austin Police Officer Christopher Taylor, who is on trial for murder in the death of Mike Ramos. Taylor’s attorneys are likely to take over Wednesday morning.
Taylor shot and killed Ramos, 42, during an incident with police back in April 2020 at a south Austin apartment complex parking lot. Taylor is on administrative leave with APD.
Prosecution: Final expert witnesses
The jury heard from a use-of-force expert, Seth Stoughton, as a final witness for the state Tuesday. He is a professor at the University of South Carolina School of Law and the faculty director of the Excellence in Policing and Public Safety program there.
Stoughton has testified in several high-profile police trials previously as a use-of-force expert, he said. That included Derek Chauvin’s trial, according to the school he’s employed by. Chauvin is the former Minneapolis police officer found guilty in the May 2020 death of George Floyd.
Stoughton testified that based on his analysis of the scene, Ramos was a flight risk but did not present a risk of injury or death to anyone in the area, including officers. When asked if he believed deadly force was appropriate by officers in this case, Stoughton testified that based on generally accepted police practices, he did not.
The jury also heard from Dr. Wilson C. “Toby” Hayes Tuesday afternoon. He is the president of an expert witness and consulting firm that specializes in injury biomechanics.
“I often describe to juries that, if they are properly interpreted, the injuries can tell the story as to what happened,” Hayes said. He later added: “In shooting reconstructions, it is in fact the wounds that tell the story.”
Hayes testified to what he believed Ramos to be doing when he was hit by the bullets fired by Taylor, or fragments of those bullets. He walked the jury through each and said he believed Ramos to be driving away from officers when he was shot three times.
“I believe that as a consequence of the above analysis, that Mr. Ramos or his vehicle did not at any time present an imminent threat of death or bodily injury,” Hayes testified.
Hayes had a presentation the state hoped to show to the jury, but Judge Dayna Blazey ruled it couldn’t be shown because it wasn’t given to the defense prior to her discovery deadline. He used a drawing of the outline of a body and state attorneys to demonstrate the injuries Ramos had.
Previous coverage of this trial:
- Prosecutors expect to wrap mid-week in APD officer’s murder trial
- APD Officer Christopher Taylor’s statement read during murder trial
- Medical Examiner walks through autopsy of Michael Ramos
- APD officers testify in fellow officer’s murder trial
- ‘I would take that back’: Woman who called 911 testifies
- 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
APD academy instructor
Tuesday morning, the jury continued to hear from an APD instructor, Michael Decker. He also gave testimony for roughly an hour Monday before jurors were released.
Decker is being used by the state as an expert in high-risk traffic stops, which he teaches at the police academy. Officers on scene with Taylor have previously testified that they treated their initial approach to Ramos as a high-risk traffic stop.
The state Monday had the instructor walk through how one of those traffic stops should be conducted, including how many officers should be giving commands and best practices for getting someone out of their car.
The defense picked up on that line of questioning Tuesday, asking Decker to walk through APD training documents, training presentations for high-risk traffic stops, and less-lethal options used by APD in 2020.
After walking through how APD is trained, the defense had Decker watch video from the scene and analyze how officers responded in the context of that training. Decker said officers could have put more distance between themselves and Ramos and could have communicated better with Ramos, but also noted high-risk traffics stops are very dynamic.