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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As summer temperatures continue to increase, so does Austin's "Party Island"—a hundreds-strong army of kayakers and paddle boarders who gather each weekend in the middle of Lady Bird Lake.
Born from the pandemic, the swarm of paddleboarding partiers has continued to grow each summer and can be seen from the nearby Lamar Boulevard Bridge. And while "Party Island" certainly lives up to one half of its name, it's not actually an island at all: instead, it's located at a shallow sandbar near Lou Neff Point.
With beers, burgers from portable grills and even DJ turntables in hand, more friends and strangers continue to beat the heat in new ways at the distinct Austin hangout.
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If you are a committed, grunge-wearing resident of the Pacific Northwest, it is easy–almost automatic–to look at Texas as an extraordinarily dry, hot and culturally oppressive place that is better to avoid, especially in the summer. Our two granddaughters live with their parents in Portland.
Recently we decided to take the older girl, who is 15, to Dallas. Setting aside the summer heat, a Portlander can adjust to the vibes of Austin without effort. So let’s take Texas with all of its excesses straight up. Dallas, here we come.
Our 15-year-old granddaughter and her sister, 12, have spent summer weeks with us, usually separately so that we could better get to know each individually. In visits focused on Austin and Port Aransas, the girls seemed to be developing an affection for Texas.
Houston and Dallas are two great American cities, the 4th and 9th largest, each loaded with cultural treasures, each standing in glittering and starchy contrast to Austin’s more louche, T-shirts and shorts ways.
Three hours up I-35, Dallas loomed before us as a set of gray skyscrapers in a filmy haze, accessed only through a concrete mixmaster of freeways, ramps and exits. I drove with false confidence. Be calm, I said to myself, it will all end in 10 minutes under the hotel entrance canopy. And it did.
The pool at the Crescent Court Hotel in Dallas. (Crescent Court Hotel)
We stayed three nights at the Crescent Court Hotel ($622 a night for two queens), a high-end hotel in Uptown, patronized by women in white blazers, business people in suits, and tall, lean professional athletes, their shiny Escalades and Corvettes darting in and out, and other celebrities like Bill Barr, the former attorney general who shoe-horned his ample self into a Toyota.
Each morning as I walked to Whole Foods for a cappuccino, a fellow identified by a bellman as Billy the Oilman arrived in his Rolls Royce Phantom. Where does he park? “Wherever he wants to. He likes the Starbucks here.”
We garaged our more modest set of wheels for the visit. We were chauffeured for tips by Matt Cooney and Alfonza “The Rev” Scott in the hotel’s black Audi sedan. They drove us to museums, restaurants and past the enclaves of the rich and famous. In Highland Park, The Rev pointed out the homes of the Dallas Cowboys' Jerry Jones and Troy Aikman along with the family compound of the Hunts, oil and gas tycoons.
The Dallas Museum of Art’s “Cartier and Islam” exhibit (until Sept. 18) attracted an older crowd; the nearby Perot Museum of Nature and Science was a powerful whirlpool of kids’ groups ricocheting from the Tyrannosaurus Rex to the oil fracking exhibit. Watch your shins.
A Geogia O'Keeffe oil painting called "Ranchos Church, New Mexico" at the Amon Carter Museum of Modern Art. (Rich Oppel)
For us, the best museum was the Amon Carter Museum of Modern Art in Fort Worth, a 50-minute, madcap drive away via a 75 mph toll lane along I-30. Don’t try it during rush hour. The Carter has an exquisite collection of Remington paintings and sculptures and an excellent array of 19th and 20th-century paintings as well. Pick one museum? The Amon Carter. Peaceful, beautiful, uncrowded, free admission and small enough to manage in two hours.
The Fort Worth Stockyards, a place of history (with a dab of schmaltz), fun and good shopping, filled one of our mornings. The 98 acres brand the city as Cowboy Town, with a rodeo and a twice-daily (11:30 a.m. and 4 p.m.) cattle drive. We shopped for boots, drank coffee and watched the “herd” of 18 longhorns. So languid was their progress that if this were a real market drive the beef would have been very tough and leathery before it hit the steakhouse dinner plate.
The cattle drive at the Fort Worth Stockyards. (Rich Oppel)
But we could identify: the temperature was 97. “I saw a dog chasing a cat today,” said the emcee, deploying a very old joke. “It was so hot that both were walking.”
With limited time, we chose three very different restaurants:
- Nobu, in the Crescent Court Hotel; Jia, a modern Chinese restaurant in Highland Park; and Joe T. Garcia’s in Fort Worth. Nobu’s exotic Japanese menu set us back $480, with tip, for four (we had a guest), but it was worth it.
- Jia was an ordinary suburban strip mall restaurant, but with good food and a reasonable tab of $110 for four.
- Joe T.’s is an 85-year-old Fort Worth institution (think Matt’s El Rancho but larger), a fine Mexican restaurant where a meal with two drinks was $115.
Sushi at high-end restaurant Nobu. (Crescent Hotel)
It was all a splurge for a grandchild’s visit. Now we will get back to our ordinary road trips of Hampton Inns, where a room rate is closer to the Crescent Court’s overnight parking rate of $52. And to corner cafes in small towns.
Did Dallas change our 15-year-old’s view of Texas? “Yes. I think it’s a lot cooler than I did. The fashion, the food.” So, not only Austin is cool. Take Texas as a whole. It’s a big, complex, diverse and wonderful state.