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Murder Warrant Issued for Austin Police Officer Who Fatally Shot Unarmed Man

An arrest warrant has been issued charging a police officer in Austin, Texas, with murder in the shooting death of a man last year that touched off protests against police violence in the state capital, the authorities said on Wednesday.

The Travis County Sheriff’s Office confirmed that a warrant had been issued for the officer, Christopher Taylor, but said it did not have additional information immediately available. The Austin Police Department had no immediate comment. Ken Ervin, a lawyer for Officer Taylor, also had no immediate comment.

Officer Taylor was among a number of Austin police officers who responded to the parking lot of an apartment complex on April 24, 2020, after a 911 caller reported that a man with drugs was sitting in a car and holding a gun, with a woman next to him, the police said.

After meeting outside the apartment complex, the officers confronted the man, Michael Ramos, 42, as he sat inside the car.

Dashboard camera video released by the Austin Police Department last year showed officers repeatedly ordering Mr. Ramos to put his hands up and step out of his car. Mr. Ramos can be seen getting out of his car with his hands up. Officers then told him to lift up his shirt and to turn around in a circle, which he did.

Mr. Ramos waved his hands and yelled at the officers, asking at one point, “What’s going on?” He also yelled, “I ain’t got no gun, dog!” with an expletive added. An officer shouted at him, “I’m going to impact you!” Mr. Ramos replied: “Impact me? For what?”

An officer, later identified as Mitchell Pieper, fired one “less lethal” round at Mr. Ramos, striking him in the thigh, the police said. Mr. Ramos then got back into his car and drove forward as officers yelled at him not to leave.

Officer Taylor fired three rounds from his rifle at Mr. Ramos’s moving car, striking him, the Austin police said. Emergency medical workers took Mr. Ramos to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead. A woman who had been in the car before the shooting was not injured, arrested or charged.

The Austin police confirmed after the shooting that Mr. Ramos did not have a gun.

Officers Pieper and Taylor were both placed on administrative leave after the shooting. Officer Pieper had been with the department for three months and was undergoing field training. Officer Taylor had been with the department for five years.

The killing of Mr. Ramos, who was Black and Hispanic, set off protests against police violence in Austin about a month before the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis catalyzed global demonstrations against police brutality and systemic racism.

At one protest last May, Mr. Ramos’s mother, Brenda Ramos, asked why Officer Taylor had not been fired or prosecuted. “Why isn’t he in jail?” she said. “I need your help. We must get justice for Mike.”

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