By Mike Talavera
On Monday, July 27, the Austin Police Department released an edited and redacted version of video footage capturing the police murder of Mike Ramos, the man from southeast Austin whose death has energized the local movement for Black Lives. The 16-minute clip, which is vaguely entitled “Critical Incident Briefing” to downplay the horrific content, portrays Austin Police rapidly ambushing Mike who was clearly unarmed and then literally chomping at the bit to execute him.
Officer Christopher Taylor, the one who would moments later shoot Mike to death, can be heard yelling before any shots were fired, “Impact him! Impact him!”, spurring his fellow officer Mitchell Pieper to shoot Ramos with a “less lethal” round. Pieper would eventually follow the command, causing Mike to flee as anyone would being fired on for no reason. Taylor, practically foaming at the mouth by this point, would then take the opportunity to gun Mike down with his rifle. Pieper is an inexperienced rookie only highlighting the principle role of Taylor in the murder of Mike Ramos.
The video not only reveals the cruel and predatory actions of APD in Mike’s murder, but it begins by playing back the audio recording of the 9-1-1 call that led to the police intervention. The caller, whose identity remains anonymous, requests for police presence because they think they see someone smoking illicit drugs in the parking lot who has a gun. A gun was never found in Mikes’ car. This highlights the issue of backward elements among the people using already racist and eager-to-kill police department as a weapon against the people, and more importantly the need to prevent everyone in the community from ever calling the police by implementing mass education programs and fighting for alternative resources.
Drug abuse and violence related to drug dealing are assuredly ruling class weapons against working class neighborhoods like East Riverside where Mike lived, but this tragic episode is unquestionable proof that the police do not solve these problems in the community but make them worse. Rifles and bean bags fired from shotguns are no solution to the drug problem.
The Mike Ramos Brigade, a community organization that formed shortly after Mike’s murder, held a protest outside of APD headquarters in downtown Austin after the tape of his death was published.
“We all saw. We all heard. Mike Ramos was killed by APD with his hands up!” MRB said in a statement. “We didn’t need APD’s video to know the truth, because the truth has been clear for hundreds of years for Black people in America.”
The video itself has done little to motivate the city or APD to do anything different in their response to Mike’s murder. Taylor, Pieper, and all the other officers present have not faced charges or any real punishment, and District Attorney Margaret Moore has refused to move the cases forward until she leaves office. An act that can only be viewed as a tantrum thrown due to her miserable election performance.
The movement for Black Lives in Austin, on the other hand, is hungrier for people’s justice after watching the twisted APD murder movie. The video shows no efforts to even discuss possible deescalation tactics, in fact the opposite is on display as Taylor and others show their commitment to escalation. Last weekend, Garrett Foster, a regular at the protests and a true fighter for Black lives, was gunned down by a driver who has since been revealed to be US Army Sergeant Daniel Perry after the publication of a Tribune investigative report.
Garrett’s example has inspired many to race to the frontlines in the fight for Black Lives and to dare to seek people’s justice for the terroristic acts of the state.