CREDIT: Austin (TX) Police Department
Before the death of George Floyd and the protests and riots that followed, Austin was dealing with its own police brutality scandal. The shooting of 42-year-old Mike Ramos on April 24 left a mother bereft of her only child and a community with questions about the details of the incident that claimed his life.
Since late April, activists, members of Ramos’ family, and the community at large have been demanding answers from a city government that seemed reticent to give them. Many called for the release of the bodycam footage so that the truth could be exposed to the public.
Last Monday, which is about three months after the shooting, the authorities finally released the footage, which shows what took place on that evening when officers with the Austin Police Department (APD) responded to a 911 call claiming that Ramos was doing drugs in his vehicle while holding a gun. The video, which was compiled by APD, shows the footage and the content of the 911 call that sparked the encounter.
The video shows the eight officers confront Ramos with guns drawn, ordering him to get out of the car. One of the officers instructs Ramos to lift his shirt and turn around, showing that he was not armed. After repeated requests to walk forward, one of the law enforcement officials shoots Ramos with a less-lethal round. A panicked Ramos jumps into his car and attempts to flee, but was stopped when an officer fired three shots into the vehicle.
The death of Mike Ramos did not receive the same type of nationwide attention as Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and George Floyd, likely because he was Hispanic, not black. But his death was tragic nonetheless. However, there is an aspect of this case that has not been explored in-depth, which is why I made the following video where I explain my theory of what led to this tragedy.
The revelations in the video footage elicited outrage in the city. Last Saturday, protesters took to the streets to demonstrate against the killings of Garrett Foster and Mike Ramos. These gatherings have also taken place during the week.
Scott Hendler, an attorney who is representing Ramos’ mother, explained his thoughts on the video. “The first thing that stuck out to me is what I did not see, and that was any justification for the shooting. That is glaringly absent from the video,” he said in an interview on KUT, a local radio station. “What’s clear is that there’s nothing Mike Ramos did to justify Officer [Christopher] Taylor opening fire and killing him.”
Lawyers representing Officer Taylor argued that the officers were “in fear that Mr. Ramos’ vehicle was going to put them in danger.” An APD report claimed that Ramos was going to use his vehicle as a weapon, which justified his shooting. “At the moment Mr. Ramos sort of drives forward shows that we believe they believed they were in fear of serious bodily injury or death or something along those lines,” said Ken Ervin, one of the officer’s attorneys.
Ramos’ mother said that after watching the video, she “couldn’t see it the second time.” She explained, “so I had someone on behalf of me to go,” she said to KXAN. “He was my only son. I lost my whole family now.”
Much of the controversy over the shooting was related to APD’s continued stalling when it came to releasing the footage. According to procedure, they were supposed to release the video within 60 days of the incident, which would have meant the public could have seen it in late June. However, the agency refused to reveal the video until July 27.
Travis County District Attorney Margaret Moore stated that she would not be sending the case to a grand jury. Having lost in the primary election, she will let her successor handle the matter, which means it could be at least six months before Austin sees any movement on this issue. However, one thing is clear, there is more to this story than meets the eye, as I explain in the video above, but there is no telling how this will impact the case.
Let me know what you think in the comments below.
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