AUSTIN (KXAN) — More jurors are still needed for the trial of an Austin police officer accused of murder in a 2020 deadly shooting, according to one of Christopher Taylor’s defense attorneys.
The trial was expected to begin 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.
Jury selection began Monday, but an error led to that jury panel’s dismissal.
Taylor, 31, is accused of shooting and killing Michael Ramos, 42, during a confrontation with police in a south Austin apartment complex parking lot.
Ervin told KXAN the doors to the courtroom were locked while the state was conducting jury selection Monday morning, which is not allowed. The judge was unaware this had happened.
Ervin said if the error was discovered after the fact, any trial decisions — including conviction — would be reversed. He said there was no point in not dismissing the jury Monday.
The Travis County District Attorney’s office released a statement saying, “It is essential to our criminal justice system that this case will be treated like any other criminal case. We are hopeful that the court’s eventual decision to allow the public to observe the proceedings will put us on that track.”
Testimony is expected to begin Wednesday in the trial.
In April 2020, officers responded to South Pleasant Valley Road after a 911 call reported someone dealing drugs in a car. The caller also said a man had a gun, according to previous APD reports.
When officers arrived at the scene, Ramos was directed to get out of the car. After exiting the car, the incident escalated and an officer hit Ramos in the thigh with a non-lethal bean bag round, APD said.
After Ramos gets back into the car and shuts the door, the video shows. Three gunshots were fired as Ramos tries to drive away from the parking spot. APD previously said Taylor was the officer who fired the lethal rounds.
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In December 2020, Ramos’ mother, Brenda, sued the City of Austin and Taylor in a wrongful death civil lawsuit, which claims Taylor shot Mike without justification.
“Any competent police officer would have known that shooting a suspect in the head because he was driving away from police and bystanders—toward a dead-end blocked by dumpsters and a building—was a gross civil rights violation,” the lawsuit read.
In 2021, a Travis County grand jury returned an indictment for Taylor.
Former prosecutor Gary Cobb is coming out of retirement to help with the murder trial. Travis County District Attorney José Garza made a special request for Cobb to help with the case, according to a source who asked to remain anonymous because of their proximity to the case.
In July 2019, Taylor was accused of shooting and killing 46-year-old Mauris Nishanga DeSilva in downtown Austin during a check welfare call. In addition to a murder charge, he also faces a charge of deadly conduct for the discharge of a firearm related to the 2019 incident. This case is still going through the court process.