Why aren’t police officers who use lethal force charged sooner? Local law enforcement weigh in

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AUSTIN (KXAN) — A Minneapolis police officer was charged just four days after the death of George Floyd.

Austin Police Chief Brian Manley said the department’s policies and protocols are the reasons why investigations into an officer’s use of lethal force take more time.

Charges haven’t been filed in the Austin Police Department officer-involved shooting death of Mike Ramos more than a month ago.

“We’re all getting that question of why doesn’t it happen that way here,” Manley said.

Ramos was shot and killed by Austin police on April 24. Officers said he didn’t comply with orders and attempted to leave the scene off Pleasant Valley Road. He was unarmed.

Austin Police Officer Christopher Taylor’s lawyers previously said Taylor was the subject of a criminal investigation but he hasn’t been charged.

“Timeliness is always important but you also have to make sure that you follow your established policies and protocols because, at the end of the day, you have to follow due process so that where that takes you, you got there in the appropriate manner,” Manley said.

Manley has committed to releasing a video of the lethal shooting of Ramos. His staff is currently preparing a video with added context to be released to the public soon.

Travis County District Attorney Margaret Moore visits every scene where lethal force is used by officers to observe evidence as its being collected. Her office announced Friday night that the case will be presented to a special grand jury used specifically for these kinds of cases.

Moore said is an important one.

“I reviewed the case today with my Civil Rights Director, and we believe the investigation has progressed to the point that we can properly make this announcement.”

Jose Garza, who is facing Moore in a runoff election for the Democratic nomination for Travis County district attorney, said he would reverse the policy of the district attorney first approving a case involving lethal force by an officer before it is sent to the grand jury.

“Police misconduct cases will be independently investigated, and all cases will be presented to the grand jury for review,” Garza said in a statement.

Chas Moore, founder and executive director of the Austin Justice Coalition, is among those in the community questioning why, after a month, there aren’t more answers in the death of Ramos.

“Those cops should be fired and we need justice here in Austin the same way they got justice in Minneapolis, at least so far with the (officer) being charged,” Chas Moore said.

The Austin Justice Coalition is hosting a walk in honor of Ramos on Sunday at 1 p.m. beginning at the state capital.

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