The court can’t seem to find enough jurors
By Brant Bingamon, 4:35PM, Fri. May 26, 2023
Judge Dayna Blazey declared a mistrial Friday, May 26 after chaotic days of jury selection (Photo by Austin Sanders)
What is probably the most important trial in the history of the Austin Police Department won’t be starting any time soon.
Judge Dayna Blazey declared a mistrial Friday afternoon in the case of Christopher Taylor, accused of murdering Mike Ramos in a southeast Austin parking lot while on duty in April of 2020.
The Taylor mistrial declaration came after a full week of chaos surrounding the jury selection process. On Monday, Blazey had to dismiss 80 potential jurors when doors to the courtroom were locked and bailiffs repeatedly denied press and public entry, who missed a large portion of what is supposed to be an open process. (Prior to the trial, a bailiff told the Chronicle’s Austin Sanders via email that “no media will be allowed into the courtroom during the jury selection.”) Restarting jury selection with a new pool of candidates made finding an adequate number of jurors much more difficult, Blazey said – by Friday, 210 potential jurors had been called, 130 had been examined by the attorneys on both sides, and only seven had been seated.
Blazey said she will meet with prosecutors and defense at some point next week – a specific time was not determined – to reschedule the trial. She said she will bring in three panels of 100 potential jurors each and advise them that the trial is now expected to last four weeks, not three. Blazey added that the proceedings will require a larger courtroom. “We’re going to scrunch chairs together as best we can,” she said.
Taylor killed Ramos, a Black and Latino Austinite, only a month before Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin murdered George Floyd, galvanizing a weekend of intense protest in Austin at the end of May 2020. Thousands of young Austinites protested against police brutality, waving signs bearing Floyd and Ramos’ names, confronting rows of officers protecting police headquarters, and shutting down I-35. Taylor shot Ramos in the back of the head as he was driving slowly away from officers, and the trial will ask jurors to determine whether that constituted murder.
The Chronicle will continue to cover this trial as it progresses.
Got something to say? The Chronicle welcomes opinion pieces on any topic from the community. Submit yours now at austinchronicle.com/opinion.
A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for over 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.