AUSTIN (KXAN) — Over the years, Austin police officers have been indicted on charges stemming from deadly shootings, but none have gone to a criminal trial.
Officer Scott Glasgow was indicted by a Travis County Grand Jury in the 2003 shooting death of Jessie Owens.
That indictment was thrown out because it lacked criminal charges.
APD Officer Christopher Taylor is the first to stand trial for murder in Travis County.
Taylor, 31, is accused of shooting and killing Michael Ramos, 42, during a confrontation with police in a south Austin apartment complex parking lot in April 2020. His trial was expected to start Wednesday, but when KXAN checked in on jury selection Tuesday evening, Taylor’s attorney Ken Ervin said they did not end the day with enough jurors to proceed to trial, and will have to bring an additional jury panel in Wednesday morning.
“I was thinking back on my time at the DA’s office, and I don’t recall many cases that reached that level of prosecution,” defense attorney Jeremy Sylestine said.
For years he was a prosecutor at the Travis County District Attorney’s Office before becoming a defense attorney.
“I do know that there was one case that was brought against an APD officer that eventually was moved to federal court and that had some unique circumstances about it. But I don’t recall ever seeing a murder charge in and of itself.”
Sylestine is describing the case against then-Austin police detective Charles Kleinert.
In 2013, Kleinert was indicted on a manslaughter charge in the shooting death of Larry Jackson Jr.
The charge was later dropped because a federal judge ruled Kleinert was protected because he was working on a special task force at the time of the shooting.
The Travis County District Attorney Jose Garza prioritized the Ramos shooting as he took office.
“He got the indictment and I think that is a top priority, which is evidenced by the fact that he brought in a special prosecutor just for this case,” Sylestine said.
DA Garza’s office hired back former Travis County assistant district attorney Gary Cobb to handle the case.
“I’ve never seen anything like this before. I have a lot of respect for Mr. Cobb and he’s one of the finest trial attorneys that there is around. So, it speaks highly of him that he was valued in this way for this kind of case. But I’ve again, never seen it, it’s kind of unprecedented,” Sylestine said.
In 2015, Austin police officer Vontrey Clark was charged with murder in the death of Samantha Dean and her unborn baby. The case was to be tried in Bastrop County, where the body was found, but a trial never happened. In 2019, Clark confessed to the crime and was sentenced to life in prison.