While on bond for a murder charge for the killing of Michael Ramos, Austin police officer Christopher Taylor was once again indicted with a separate charge for the death of a mentally ill man in July 2019. Officer Karl Krycia, who also fired shots at the mentally ill man, was indicted with a murder charge for the July 2019 incident, as well.
Taylor, who was charged with murder for the shooting of Ramos, an unarmed Black and Hispanic man, in April 2020, turned himself in for the newest on-duty murder charge on Friday.
Ten months before the death of Ramos, Taylor shot and killed Mauris DeSilva, a Univeristy of Texas-San Antonio professor with schizophrenia who was suffering a psychotic break, after he allegedly took a step toward three on-scene police officers with a knife at a luxury condo building near Third and Bowie streets on July 31, 2019. Two of the three officers opened fire after DeSilva allegedly did not obey their commands. All officers returned on duty in the weeks after the shooting.
BREAKING: Austin Police Officer Chris Taylor faces a new murder charge in a second on-duty shooting in July 2019. He already has been charged with murder in the April 2020 shooting death of Michael Ramos. The latest case stems from the shooting of Mauris DeSilva. pic.twitter.com/dx5OfyKYJ2
— Tony Plohetski (@tplohetski) August 27, 2021
DeSilva's family filed a lawsuit against the department, citing that the shooting was unjustified and that APD knew DeSilva's history of mental illness and had deescalated the situation before.
"During the last years and months of his life, Dr. DeSilva struggled with increasingly severe mental illness," the lawsuit says. "Austin PD was well aware of this fact."
According to the lawsuit DeSilva's neighbor called Austin PD that night, fearing that an emotionally disturbed DeSilva was once again suffering from a psychotic break as he held a knife to his neck in the condominium hallway. The neighbor asked for a mental health officer. While on-duty mental health officer Benjamin Lynch was available to respond, he was not at the scene at the time of the murder. Police say that Lynch was on his way to the scene when DeSilva was killed.
Attorneys for Taylor say that he "had no choice but to use deadly force to protect himself."
"This was in no way murder," they said in a statement.
In a statement released Friday afternoon, Interim Police Chief Joseph Chacon said the department would delay their conclusion in its administrative review of both Officer Taylor and Officer Karl Krycia, who also fired shots at the scene.
:APD respects the role the Grand Jury holds in the criminal justice process and will continue to cooperate with the District Attorney's Office on this case. As with anyone charged with an offense, these officers are presumed innocent unless found guilty through the criminal process," Chacon said. "In respect of their right to a fair trial, we will not be commenting further."
Officer Krycia has been placed on paid administrative duty, while Taylor remains on leave without pay after his murder charge in Ramos' killing. Taylor was released on personal bond Friday morning following the second charge.
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After months of speculation, a new report says political personality Beto O'Rourke is mulling a run for Texas governor that he will announce later this year.
Sources tell Axios the former congressman is preparing his campaign for the 2022 election, where he will likely vie for the position against incumbent Gov. Greg Abbott. The only other candidate that has announced he will take on Abbott for governor is former Texas GOP Chairman Allen West—no Democrats have announced they are running as of yet.
"No decision has been made," Axios reports David Wysong, O'Rourke's former House chief of staff and a longtime adviser, said. "He has been making and receiving calls with people from all over the state."
A new poll from The Dallas Morning News and University of Texas at Tyler shows O'Rourke is narrowing the gap between himself and Abbott's prospects for governor. In the poll, 37% said they'd vote for O'Rourke over Abbott, while 42% said they'd vote for Abbott.
Abbott has been in the hot seat due to his handling of COVID-19 and the signing of landmark legislation into law, including new abortion and voting rights laws; 54% of poll respondents voted they think the state is headed in the "wrong direction." Still, Texas hasn't had a Democrat as governor since the 90s.
O'Rourke's people-focused approach to the 2018 Senator race, which he lost to Sen. Ted Cruz, gave him a widespread following and many hoped he'd throw his hat into the ring since he said he was considering it earlier this year.
"We hope that he's going to run," Gilberto Hinojosa, the state chair of the Democratic Party, told Axios. "We think he'll be our strongest candidate. We think he can beat Abbott because he's vulnerable."
Austin rapper Jordi Esparza may not have won the 2021 Red Bull Batalla, the world's largest Spanish freestyle rap competition, but for a spirited two rounds, the 22-year old Mexican native looked like he had every right to.
On Saturday evening in Los Angeles, the event itself looked like Cobra Kai meets Star Search with graphics adding a very Batman Beyond aesthetic. Over a dozen rappers hoping to represent the U.S. in the international round of the competition took to the stage with in-your-face jabs at accents, sexual orientation and odors, among other things.
This was Esparza's second rodeo; he had placed third at the 2020 National Finals, automatically securing him a spot this year.
However, things were different this year. He was not nervous about the contest. Unlike in 2020, when he made his Red Bull Batalla debut, the anxiety of the event led him to "feeling so bad."
Affecting a casual calm, the locally-based landscaper said he just felt "so relaxed, so happy" and primarily wanted to "enjoy everything."
Choosing his first-round opponent, Esparza, whose stage name is Jordi, elected to go against LA-based Boss.
Esparza freestyled an attack on his opponent's weight and cholo style of dress.
Boss—bracketing his Latin freestyle with English appeals to the crowd—mocked Jordi's lack of education, made fun of how clean Jordi's shoes looked and suggested that Jordi just came back from a Footlocker.
That first round went to Jordi.
But his next opponent Eckonn would prove to be his undoing.
Eckonn compared Jordi to Hannah Montana, while Jordi soulfully explained that he had learned from the best.
Esparza's verbal dexterity is matched by a rattling rhythm and a game face that is as mawkish as it is mockish. The overall effect is that of an underdog with bite.
Eckonn beat Esparza in that round with the overall championship going to Palm Beach-based rapper Reverse.
However, Esparza was just happy to be there. He recently told Austonia going to the finals again was a dream come true—a pinnacle that he said he won't know how to top.
With his nimble jabs and sneaky prowess, honed from pop culture and the swagger of a young working man hungry to be more, Jordi Esparza is just getting started.