AUSTIN (KXAN) — The Mike Ramos Act — named for the unarmed man who was killed by Austin police last year — would create new standards for officer discipline and expand access to body camera footage in use of force cases.
State Sen. Sarah Eckhardt, an Austin Democrat, announced the proposed legislation on Thursday alongside Mike Ramos’ mother, Brenda Ramos. State Rep. Eddie Rodriguez, also from Austin, filed an identical bill in the Texas House the same day.
“The Mike Ramos Act is one of many bills this legislative session that address systemic inequalities in our criminal justice system — systemic inequalities that have had such an incredibly negative, harmful, and even deadly effect on communities of color.”
An Austin police officer charged with murder in the shooting death of Michael Ramos was booked overnight and is out of jail this morning on bond. Christopher Taylor, 29, shot and killed Ramos on April 24, 2020 in the parking lot of a south Austin apartment complex during a confrontation Ramos had with police.
The bill would direct the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement to create a new training model on de-escalation and use of force for law enforcement agencies and establishes a list of offenses for which a peace officer’s license may be revoked or suspended.
That list includes:
- Lack of competence in performing duties
- Illegal drug use or addiction
- Lack of truthfulness in court proceedings
- Failure to follow directives of a supervising officer
- Discriminatory conduct
- A pattern of excessive use of force, abuse of official capacity, inappropriate relationships with persons in custody
“It means everything to me that the Mike Ramos Act will train police to de-escalate rather than escalate, like they did to my son,” Brenda Ramos said. “The Mike Ramos Act will save other mothers from why I’ve suffered.”
The legislation would also work to close the dead suspect loophole which shields the release of evidence when an investigation doesn’t result in a criminal conviction or deferred adjudication.
Law enforcement agencies would be required to release body camera footage to members or staff of any existing civilian oversight body, then to attorneys representing the officer under investigation and the family or individual subject of the incident, followed by release to the public.
Kevin Lawrence, executive director of the Texas Municipal Police Association, said, on first glance, he supports many of the changes proposed in the Mike Ramos Act — including closure of the dead suspect loophole and increased transparency with body camera footage.
Lawrence said his only issue rests with due process for officers who are suspended or lose their license through TCOLE.
“The officer has to be given a fair shake,” Lawrence said. “There has to be something akin to what the state bar offers.”