Eckhardt: Death of Black Lives Matter protester in Austin an ‘epic failure’ of leadership

Racial Justice & Equality Movement

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Coming off her Senate District 14 victory, former Travis County Judge Sarah Eckhardt said the Texas Legislature has an opportunity to “right wrongs” in regard to racial inequality and called the recent death of a Black Lives Matter protester in Austin an “epic failure” of leadership and policy.

Garrett Foster, 28, was shot multiple times after a car turned into a group of demonstrators at Black Lives Matter protest in Austin on July 25. Police said that Foster was carrying an AK-47 type firearm when the car turned into the roadway and approached the driver’s side window as other demonstrators “began striking the vehicle.”

The driver of that car who turned into the crowd told police they had fired a handgun at someone who approached their driver-side window and pointed an assault-type weapon at them. APD has not indicated that Foster ever fired his weapon.

“That shootout was not the result of Black Lives Matter protesting,” Eckhardt told KXAN. “That is a tragedy of epic, epic failure of policy and leadership that we’re going to need to address.”

Former Travis County Judge and State Senator-elect Sarah Eckhart. Image Courtesy Travis County website.

Asked what should come next to address the failed policies and leadership, Eckhardt said: “We will see what comes next,” while reiterating that she is committed to criminal justice reform.”

Eckhardt, a Democrat, received 49.66% of the vote in a special election for Senate District 14 which, had it not been for the concession of the second-place finisher, state Rep. Eddie Rodriguez, would have forced a runoff. She will fill the seat left vacant by Democrat Kirk Watson, who retired to take a position with the University of Houston.

DEATH OF MIKE RAMOS

Eckhardt said she viewed the critical incident video released by the Austin Police Dept. regarding the death of Mike Ramos, who died after being shot by an APD officer as he attempted to flee arrest in April, and drew “many conclusions.”

“I think that releasing that video did advance transparency, certainly,” Eckhardt said. “We need more transparency with the unequal application of the law with regard to a vehicle used as a deadly weapon and the defensive property of being inside your vehicle and being able to defend oneself from inside a vehicle.”

She would not weigh in on Travis County District Attorney Margaret Moore’s decision to not present the Ramos case to a grand jury during her remaining months in office citing the importance of local control.

“The people of Travis County make their selection with regard to who their district attorney is, the senator from Senate District 14 does not,” Eckhardt said.

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