Christopher Taylor, the Austin police officer who fatally shot 42-year-old Mike Ramos in April 2020, has been indicted on another murder charge.
Mauris DeSilva, a 46-year-old neuroscientist, was having a mental health crisis in July 2019 when he was killed by Austin police. A Travis County special grand jury issued indictments in the case Friday against Taylor and a second police officer, Karl Kyrcia.
The officers were each charged with first-degree murder and a third-degree felony count of deadly conduct. Bail was set at $100,000 each.
“Our system depends on trust in the process,” Dexter Gilford, director of the Civil Rights Unit, said in a press release. “We trust the grand jurors took seriously their commitment to consider the cases before them, and, in this instance, to return indictments. We know these decisions are not easy, and we appreciate the time and concern they put into this case.”
This is Taylor’s second indictment in the past five months; he was indicted in March on a murder charge in the Ramos case.
On July 31, 2019, several 911 calls were made about an individual holding a knife to his own neck at a condominium in downtown Austin, according to the Austin Police Department. Police fatally shot DeSilva at the scene.
In a statement Friday, Taylor’s attorneys said DeSilva refused to drop the knife as police instructed and Taylor “had no choice but to use deadly force to protect himself.”
DeSilva’s father, Denzil DeSilva, filed a civil lawsuit against the city after the 2019 incident. His lawyers say the use of force was “clearly excessive from the beginning.”
“Immediately prior to the shooting, Dr. Mauris DeSilva was having a mental health crisis,” they said. “The City of Austin has a long history of under-funding mental health officers in the police department. The City’s failure to establish an appropriate mental health crisis response directly contributed to Dr. DeSilva’s death.”
KUT reached out to the city for a response, but had not yet heard back.
The racial justice group Austin Justice Coalition argued Taylor should have taken more time to de-escalate the situation. In a press release, the coalition thanked Travis County DA José Garza for putting the case before a grand jury.
“This case has waited far too long for justice,” Sukyi McMahon, the coalition’s senior policy director, said. “Dr. DeSilva was killed more than two years ago, and the case languished until Garza finally started to bring police cases to the grand jury.”
Taylor’s lawyers, Ken Ervin and Doug O’Connell, argue the indictment is not justified. They said in a statement that Garza did not let a use-of-force expert, Howard Williams, testify before the grand jury.
“We believe this to be a continuation of DA Garza’s pattern of controlling what the grand jury sees and excluding certain evidence not calculated to produce an indictment,” they said.
Garza’s office said that allegation was false.
“The State presented a thorough and balanced grand jury presentation consistent with its obligations under article 2.01 of the Code of Criminal Procedure,” a spokesperson for the DA’s office said in a statement. “Due to grand jury secrecy laws, we are prevented from disclosing information about the grand jury’s proceedings.”
APD said Krycia will be put on paid administrative duty until the end of the criminal proceedings. Taylor remains on leave without pay following the Ramos shooting.