AUSTIN, Texas – A Texas police officer charged with murder in the fatal shooting last year of an unarmed Austin man was booked into jail and released on bond Thursday, authorities said.
An arrest warrant was issued Wednesday for Austin police Officer Christopher Taylor in the death of Michael Ramos. The officer fatally shot him with a rifle in April as he drove away after another officer shot him with a beanbag gun.
Taylor, 29, was booked into the Travis County jail early Thursday and released a half-hour later on a $100,000 bond and the condition that he not posses a gun, according to a spokeswoman for the county sheriff's department. He has been on leave since the shooting and is yet to face a disciplinary hearing.
The killing of Ramos, a 42-year-old who was Black and Hispanic, sparked outrage from Austin activists and calls for police Chief Brian Manley to resign. Ramos' name was invoked by demonstrators during mass protests in the city following the May killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police.
In a statement, Taylor's lawyers accused the recently elected Travis County district attorney, Jose Garza, of politicizing the indictment, citing public comments he made last summer about “fighting for justice” for Ramos’ family.
Taylor’s "indictment is not justice. It is the fulfillment of a campaign talking point,” defense attorneys Ken Ervin and Doug O’Connell said in a statement.
Garza said in a statement the indictment was a “significant step towards justice."
"We know that holding law enforcement accountable when they break the law is critical to restoring the trust of our community and to ensuring its safety,” he said.
At the time of the shooting, Manley said officers were were investigating reports of people in a car, including an armed man, doing drugs when they came upon Ramos in an apartment complex parking lot in southeast Austin.
Police video of the encounter showed Ramos told officers he was unarmed before the shooting. After asking him repeatedly to step away from the vehicle, an officer shot Ramos with a beanbag bullet. He then got back into his car.
The officers immediately told him to turn off the vehicle, saying “Michael, don’t do it.” But Ramos drove away and at least one of the officers opened fire. Police did not find a gun during a subsequent search Ramos' car.
Last month, Manley announced his retirement after 30 years with the department.