Austin: DA Won’t Bring Police Murders of Black Men to Grand Jury Until 2021

By David Martinez

On Wednesday afternoon, Travis County District Attorney Margaret Moore announced that she would not present the cases of Mike Ramos and Javier Ambler to a grand jury before the end of her term, which expires at the end of 2020. Ramos and Ambler are Black victims of police murders which have been the focus of protests and community outrage in Austin, Texas.

Ramos (Left) and Ambler (Right)

Moore, who lost her primary election runoff to Jose Garza in July, claims the choice is because voters, “clearly stated it would like to see the new administration oversee prosecution of these cases from beginning to end.”

Moore has been widely denounced in the community for her handling of both cases, including the delay on taking any action on the Ambler case for more than 15 months. However, her decision appears mainly as a means to send a resentful message to her critics rather than a sincere consideration of the community’s demands.

The Mike Ramos Brigade (MRB) told Tribune that, “Now that [Moore] has lost the race, this delay is a flat out tantrum.” MRB has been a lead organizer in the fight for justice for Ramos and against APD. They added the fact that Moore “has opted not to empanel grand juries after police shootings a total of 25 times during her term.”

A twitter account run by the sister of Javier Ambler (@javierambler) posted, “I hope since Margaret Moore doesn’t want to work anymore she isn’t getting paid either. Go ahead and resign boo!!! Sore loser!!”

Moore’s bitterness towards the community was recently on display in an interview with Texas Monthly, published on the day of her primary runoff. Moore repeated claims that Mike Ramos was, “smoking crack, whatever it was, I don’t know the drug,” adding, “He had a gun,” despite the fact that no gun was ever found on him or in his vehicle.

In the same interview, she audibly laughed when the reporter relayed the frustration of activists with the delay in the Ramos case. By pushing off the two cases to the next DA, they will not be prosecuted until early 2021 at the earliest.

The winner of the July primary runoff, Jose Garza, has yet to win the November general election, but he is presumed to be the next DA. Travis County is heavily Democratic, and the primaries are considered the true decider for local elected positions.

While freezing the prosecution of murderous police officers, Moore has not indicated if she will stop the prosecution of other offenses, such as the charges against anti-police protesters who have been targeted over the past months since the May Uprisings.

The community desires people’s justice in the cases of Ramos and Ambler, and though this is ultimately not possible via the ruling-class’s judicial system, the additional delay further illustrates how the bourgeois state toys with the lives of Black people and the oppressed. The state’s neglect must be answered with greater organization and militancy.