Police in Austin, Texas, released video Monday of an officer fatally shooting an unarmed man in April as he drove away.
The video shows the killing of Mike Ramos, a Black and Hispanic man, on April 24 and recounts what police had previously described: After officers address him by name multiple times, Ramos follows orders given by police and gets out of the car with his hands and shirt raised. Ramos turns around once in a circle toward the open driver’s side door, as if to show he had no gun in his waistband, and twice says, “Don’t shoot.” While leaning against his open door, Ramos later tells police he does not have a gun.
After imploring him multiple times to step away from the vehicle, police shoot Ramos, 42, with a less lethal beanbag bullet, the video shows, before he gets back into his car. Officers immediately tell him to turn off the vehicle: “Turn off the car. Michael, don’t do it.” Ramos then drives away and at least one officer fires multiple times, striking him fatally.
Officers Mitchell Pieper and Christopher Taylor were involved in the shooting, according to the video.
“Officer Pieper fired one less-lethal round at Mr. Ramos, striking him in the upper thigh, hip area,” Austin police said in the video. “Officer Taylor fired three rounds from his rifle as Mar. Ramos drove forward.”
A 911 caller had told police people were in a car doing drugs, and that there was a man in the car who was armed, according to a dispatcher transcript included at the beginning of the video.
Ramos was later found to be unarmed.
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The video was posted Monday to the City of Austin’s YouTube channel and was made in accordance to a newly adopted policy requiring that Austin police produce videos of critical incidents with context for the community. City Manager Spencer Cronk delayed release of the video in June because it did not fully comply with the new policy.
The new policy is part of a broader effort to overhaul the police department amid a global push for racial justice.
Austin Mayor Steve Adler called the shooting “disturbing ” after viewing previously released video captured by a bystander. Adler said Ramos did not appear to pose a threat to police.
At the time of the incident, Pieper had been with the Austin department for three months and was in his field training phase, police said. Taylor had been with the department for five years. Both officers have been placed on administrative duty.
Demonstrators in Austin invoked Ramos’ nam e when they took to the streets to protest the May killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police.
Travis County District Attorney Margaret Moore announced on July 22 that Ramos’ case would not be seen by a grand jury until 2021.