AUSTIN, Texas — At a press conference Monday afternoon, Austin Police Chief Brian Manley provided updates on an officer-involved shooting near East Oltorf Street and South Pleasant Valley Road that left one man dead on Friday, April 24.
On Monday, Manley identified the victim as 42-year-old Michael Brent Ramos. Manley said the two officers involved were Mitchell Pieper, who was commissioned to APD in January, and Christopher Taylor, who has been with APD since December 2014.
According to Manley, Pieper was the officer who fired shots from a less lethal "bean bag" shotgun. Taylor was the officer who fired the fatal shot from his rifle, according to Manley.
KVUE previously reported that Taylor was one of three officers involved in a fatal shooting in Downtown Austin in July 2019.
Manley also confirmed Monday that the vehicle involved in this incident was the vehicle involved in a theft and evading the police on Thursday, April 23. Manley said that APD has carried out a search warrant for the vehicle but is not disclosing the findings because they don't want to influence witnesses who have not yet been interviewed.
Travis County DA Margaret Moore echoed Manley's sentiments on Monday, saying, "Collection and preservation of evidence is critical, and every effort must be made to protect the integrity of the investigation. For example, we would not approve the release of certain facts before witnesses are interviewed.”
Manley said six officers who were on scene, as well as 24 civilians, have been interviewed so far but there are still others who haven't been interviewed yet.
Manley also said video from the officers' body-worn cameras will be released at the earliest opportunity once doing so will not impact the integrity of the investigation. He said due to that, some videos may be released before others.
“I will approve Chief Manley’s release of body camera videos collected by police officers, as soon as is practicable. In this instance, I do not see how the release of these videos would compromise the investigation or any subsequent prosecution,” Moore said.
The Civil Rights Unit of the DA's Office is conducting an investigation to determine if the officers' actions were compliant with state law, along with the APD Special Investigations Unit. Manley said Monday that he and Moore have also reached out to the Texas Rangers to join the investigation and the Texas Department of Public Safety has granted that request.
The Internal Affairs Office of Police Oversight will investigate whether the actions complied with administrative policies.
Manley said all investigations are active and ongoing. He said APD has "heard the community's concern" and is working to ensure a thorough, timely investigation that "fosters community trust."
APD has been criticized after videos of the shooting circulated online. Several city council members, as well as Mayor Steve Adler, have expressed concern over the shooting and the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) of Austin has called for Manley's resignation. On Monday, Chas Moore with the Austin Justice Coalition said that group is calling for Manley to be fired.
On Monday, Austin Police Association President Ken Casaday released a statement responding to the shooting. Casaday said in part:
"Police work, especially this type of call, is dynamic, intense and can quickly evolve into a life and death situation where critical decisions are made within a matter of milliseconds. It is never easy for an officer to make the decision to use deadly force. We are already hearing criticism from individuals that don't have all of the investigative details. Even council members who are not privy to the complete facts of the incident are jumping to conclusions on the case. The investigation into all aspects of the officer-involved shooting are well underway and will take time to complete. We ask that people refrain from creating their own narrative. Instead, we urge you to let the facts of the investigation tell the story of what happened last Friday night."
At Monday's press conference, Manley asked that anyone who witnessed the incident or has video of it contact APD at 512-472-TIPS. He said the department has already received three videos from the public.
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