Christopher Taylor, the Austin, Texas police officer who shot and killed Michael Ramos last year, has been charged with first-degree murder.
The indictment, which was announced Thursday morning by the Travis County District Attorney’s Office, is the first known murder indictment for an Austin police officer in a use of force incident, the office said.
A warrant for Taylor’s arrest was issued on Wednesday with a bond set at $100,000. The bond comes with a set of conditions including no employment with access to, or possession of a firearm. No possession of personal firearms, and the surrendering of his duty firearm.
According to the Travis County Sheriff’s Office, Taylor was booked in the county jail at 12:06 a.m. on Thursday and released on bond at 12:38 a.m. that same morning.
Taylor shot and killed 42-year-old Michael Ramos last April after police responded to a 911 caller who stated he saw people in a car doing drugs, and a male subject holding a gun.
Initially the only footage of the shooting was caught on cell phone video by a resident in the apartment complex.
In July 2020, the APD released an edited video of the shooting, which showed different angles of the moments leading up to the shooting.
Before the release of that video, Taylor requested that the court prohibit law enforcement from releasing the video to the public. His attorneys later said they withdrew that request.
Video of the incident shows Ramos outside of his car with his hands in the air when he is initially shot by what police say was a non-lethal bean bag round. After being shot, Ramos flees back inside his car and attempts to drive away from the scene. As he attempts to flee, officer Taylor opens fire with an AR-15 assault rifle, hitting Ramos three times. He would later be pronounced dead at the hospital.
Ramos was unarmed and no gun was found in or around his car.
The grand jury did not indict Mitchell Pieper, the officer who fired a bean bag round at Ramos during the incident.
Just hours after Taylor’s indictment was announced, Texas State Senator Sarah Eckhardt announced her new bill – The Mike Ramos Act. The bill would allow for more release of body camera footage of fatal police encounters. Under the new bill, footage would first go to a local police oversight entity, then to the officer’s attorneys and the family of the deceased, and then the public.
“Current law creates a presumption that law enforcement can withhold the release [of body camera footage],” Eckhardt said in a virtual press conference. “This language flips that … The presumption is that it must be released. Law enforcement will then have to argue back from that why they think it should not be.”
The bill will also implement a statewide policy and training guidelines on de-escalation and will allow the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement the ability to revoke officers’ licenses easier.
On Thursday, Ramos’ mother said the indictment of Taylor is “just a start.” She said it meant everything to her that the bill would train police to deescalate confrontations.
“I’m his mom but anyone can hear the fear and confusion in his voice [in the body camera footage],” she said through tears.
“They just screamed and screamed with so many guns pointing at him,” she said.