AUSTIN, Texas — It was a police shooting that rocked Austin and fueled the anger that helped spark the social justice protests of 2020. Now, more than three years later, the Austin Police Department (APD) officer who shot and killed Michael Ramos is on trial for murder.
The shooting, captured in both police footage and on witnesses' cellphone cameras, sparked controversy from the start and the trial of Officer Christopher Taylor is expected to draw emotions from all sides.
In April 2020, multiple APD officers responded to a report about possible drug dealing in the parking lot of a southeast Austin complex. The 911 caller said that a man, later identified as Ramos, had a gun – but police later confirmed that they did not find a weapon.
When officers arrived at the complex, they say Ramos did not obey their commands, prompting them to use bean bag rounds on him. Then, when Ramos got into his car and started driving, Taylor opened fire.
The shooting led to a local outcry and calls for justice, amid ongoing outrage over the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis.
Taylor's attorneys say he opened fire on Ramos to protect himself and other officers and that he committed no crime. But in one of his first major actions as Travis County District Attorney, José Garza took the case to a grand jury in 2021. The grand jury indicted Taylor on a murder charge.
Now, over at least the next week, a Travis County jury will hear arguments from both sides to decide whether the shooting was justified or whether Taylor should face up to life in prison.
All throughout the trial, KVUE Senior Reporter Tony Plohetski will have recaps and analysis live on KVUE+ at 7 p.m. daily. The segments will be available to watch afterward in this article, on KVUE+ or on our KVUE YouTube page.
You can find each segment below.
Part 1: Trial preview ahead of jury selection
Jury selection for Taylor's trial was set to begin at 9:15 a.m. on Monday, May 22. But the judge dismissed the entire jury panel on Monday when it was discovered that the courtroom door had been locked. According to one of Taylor's attorneys, Ken Ervin, it's unknown how the door got locked, but the courtroom was supposed to be open to the public.
Jury selection restarted on Tuesday, May 23, and continued on Wednesday, May 24, and Thursday, May 25.
Ahead of the start of the trial, Plohetski sat down with Austin attorneys Jason Ortega and Sandra Ritz to break down the significance of this case.
Plohetski then spoke with defense attorney Amber Vazquez and Rick Cofer, whose career spans both sides of the criminal docket.