On August 27, 2021, five months after White Austin Police Department (APD) Officer Taylor was charged with murdering an unarmed Black Hispanic suspect, he racked up another murder charge for the fatal shooting of a mentally ill South Asian man who was also unarmed.
The officer, 29-year-old Christopher Taylor, along with his partner, 28-year-old Karl Krycia, was charged with murder and deadly conduct in the fatal shooting of Mauris DeSilva, 46, as he held a knife to himself in the hallway of his condominium complex on July 31, 2019. DeSilva and his parents immigrated from Sri Lanka to the U.S., where Mauris DeSilva earned a doctorate in biomedical engineering.
On March 10, 2021, Taylor was charged with the fatal shooting of 42-year-old Michael Ramos as he slowly drove away from police after first obeying their commands to get out of his car and lift his shirt to show he had no weapon, which a 911 caller had claimed he had. A month before the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis cops sparked a nationwide outburst of demonstrations calling for police reform, a dashboard camera video of that incident on April 24, 2020, touched off protests in the city against police brutality targeting minority men like Ramos.
APD had responded before to calls in which DeSilva was suffering a mental health crisis going back to 2015. The neighbor who called 911 the night he died to report Desilva had a knife to his neck requested a mental health officer. One was on duty, but Taylor and Krycia responded instead. In a lawsuit filed against Austin and APD by DeSilva’s father, Denzil DeSilva, the officers are accused of knowing that he was suffering severe mental illness and yet choosing to react “as if this were the scene of a violent crime.”
After Taylor’s earlier arrest for killing Ramos, his lawyers, Ken Ervin and Doug O'Connell said it was “evidence of anti-police bias.” As for DeSilva, they noted that "what happened was undoubtedly tragic, particularly if it is true the man was experiencing a psychiatric episode, but in no way was this murder."
Instead, they contend that DeSilva refused to drop his knife and approached the officers, drawing within a few feet of them before they shot him in self-defense. In choosing to bring the case to the grand jury that indicted Taylor and Krycia, the attorneys also said that Travis County District Attorney José Garza was “waging a war on police officers.”
Source: New York Times
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