AUSTIN (KXAN) — Video showing the use of force by Austin police officers in the April death of Mike Ramos will be released in two weeks or less, according to the director of the Office of Police Oversight.
OPO Dir. Farah Muscadin told KXAN on Thursday that a collaborative working group including the OPO, Austin Police Dept., and City of Austin staff will soon enter the “final stage” of the critical incident video project in the Ramos case.
“This is how I envisioned the process would work is that we would have a collaborative team and we would work together to create the video,” Muscadin said. “On take two, that happened.”
The release of the video, which aims to add context to the use of force by officers, was delayed because OPO wasn’t involved in its initial production. APD policy states that critical incident videos will be released within 60 days of the incidents. Chief Brian Manley, however, can delay the release of critical incident videos if it is necessary to address “investigative, prosecutorial, or privacy interests.”
Ramos died on April 24 and, under APD policy, a video showing the use of force by officers was supposed to be released by June 23. Now, on July 16, it has been 83 days since his death.
“Because this is the first one, we really want to get it right and remove any of the kinks and it’s important that it really shows the community what transpired on that day,” Muscadin said.
“I believe it does.”
The video will then be reviewed by the District Attorney, Ramos’ family, officers involved in the incident, and city management as part of the project’s final stage before being released to the public.
Meanwhile, critical incident videos showing the use-of-force by Austin police officers during police brutality protests in May will not be released within the department’s 60-day policy, according to the Austin Police Department.
A press release from APD said, after consulting the Travis County District Attorney’s Office, the videos will not be released within the department’s self-imposed timeframe because “doing so could potentially impact the integrity of the ongoing criminal investigations into the incidents.”
“The primary reason for the delayed release of the relevant videos is the fact that investigators have not had the opportunity to interview all of the key witnesses or involved personnel identified during the course of the respective investigations,” the release said.
An APD spokesperson told KXAN on Thursday that Manley was not available for an interview and that the department would not comment further about the delay.
Five APD officers are on paid administrative duty while investigations continue into the use-of-force during police brutality protests in May. Brad Ayala, a 16-year-old walking home from work, and Justin Howell, a 20-year-old recording video of the protests on his phone, were hospitalized after being shot with bean bag rounds.
Muscadin said production of critical incident videos involving the use of force by APD at protests will begin soon after production of the video in the Ramos case is complete.