AUSTIN (KXAN) — The mother of a man shot and killed by Austin Police Department officers in November asked City Council to address police violence.
The mother of Rajan Moonesinghe, who was shot and killed by officers outside of his south Austin home Nov. 15, made that plea before council members Thursday during their meeting.
Moonesinghe was standing outside his home with a rifle when it happened. Video released by APD shows him shooting toward his house. Officer Daniel Sanchez got out of his unit and ordered Moonesinghe to drop his gun, then fired his weapon at him.
Austin Police released a Ring camera video that shows Moonesinghe outside his home with his rifle, pointing it at something off-camera and saying, “Are you sure you want this?” before firing the weapon. In the background you see an officer pull up.
According to police, when the officer arrived, he gave Moonesinghe a verbal command to drop the gun before firing his department-approved firearm at Moonesinghe. APD said Moonesinghe was hit and fell to the ground, and the rifle was on the ground at his side.
In the video, you can hear police saying to drop the gun a split second before opening fire and shooting Moonesinghe. In a video shown from the perspective of the officer, just seconds after the officer exits the vehicle, you can hear the sound of gunfire.
Moonesinghe later died.
Sanchez was placed on administrative leave, which is standard for officer-involved shooting investigations.
His mother, Ruth, is asking council members to take a closer look at the investigation.
“I challenge all of you to watch the video of what happened that night,” she said to the council. “The body cam, ring video and 911 call. Rajan had no chance.”
She’s also asking council members to increase funding for better training and recruitment.
“I’m very fortunate that our family has the resources to pursue justice for Rajan,” Ruth said. “But I’m not here just for him. I’m here for other people who have unjustly lost their lives at the hands of Austin police.”
She questioned how police could “change the culture of shooting first, instead of focusing on de-escalation,” and said it should be treated as a public health crisis, “the same way we did for COVID.”
“What I ask specifically from you is this: One — police complete the investigation of Rajan’s shooting. It’s almost three months, don’t drag this on. We are hurting. As you negotiate the new police contract, hold officers accountable for consequences of breaking protocol and procedures,” Ruth said. “Lastly, increase funding for better training and recruitment.”