Austin lawmakers file police reform bills named for Mike Ramos

The Mike Ramos Act, filed March 11, would bring a new set of police reforms to Texas. (Ali Linan/Community Impact Newspaper)
The Mike Ramos Act, filed March 11, would bring a new set of police reforms to Texas. (Ali Linan/Community Impact Newspaper)

The Mike Ramos Act, filed March 11, would bring a new set of police reforms to Texas. (Ali Linan/Community Impact Newspaper)

State Sen. Sarah Eckhardt, D-Austin, and state Rep. Eddie Rodriguez, D-Austin, filed the Mike Ramos Act in the Texas Senate and Texas House, respectively, on March 11, legislation that would bring significant changes to policing in the state of Texas.

Ramos was shot and killed in April 2020 by Austin Police Department Officer Christopher Taylor. Police body cam footage showed Ramos was unarmed, and the Travis County District Attorney's Office indicted Taylor for murder March 11.

The mirroring pieces of legislation, SB 1472 in the Senate and HB 3654 in the House, would change laws in Texas regarding use of force policy, accountability measures for police officers and the public release of body camera footage. Eckhardt said under the new law, body camera footage would have to be released to civilian oversight bodies, attorneys and close relatives of those depicted in the video and to the public. Currently, she said, the release of the footage is in the hands of law enforcement. If the bill passes, police would have to convince a judge if they wanted to withhold release of the video.

In addition, the law would give more authority to the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement, which Sen. Royce West, D-Dallas, a cosponsor of the bill in the Senate, called a "toothless tiger."

The new legislation would require TCLOE to set standards for use of force and de-escalation and establish new grounds for the state agency to remove an officer's license, including excessive use of force.

In the case of Ramos, Eckhardt said better training could have saved a life.

"Officers were performing what they had rehearsed," she said. "Their guns were drawn and they were yelling."

Chris Harris, director of the criminal justice project at nonprofit Texas Appleseed, said the new provisions would make it so police officers with a history of misconduct do not simply move to another jurisdiction to get rehired. He also said new standards around the release of body camera footage will help bring transparency.

"We know the impact the release of the footage of Mike has had in this community and on the path that we’re seeing toward justice in this case," Harris said.

In a release, Rodriguez said as the indictment of Taylor advances in the courts, he hopes the Mike Ramos Act also advances through hearings in the legislature.

"We cannot bring Mike Ramos back, but we can fight for policy changes that could prevent lives from being lost as the result of interactions between police and the communities they serve," Rodriguez said in the statement.
By Jack Flagler
Jack is the editor of Community Impact Newspaper's Central Austin and Southwest Austin editions. He began his career as a sports reporter in Massachusetts and North Carolina before moving to Austin in 2018. He grew up in Maine and graduated from Boston University, but prefers tacos al pastor to lobster rolls. You can get in touch at


Tents have become a common sight throughout Austin including along Cesar Chavez Street downtown, but with the passage of Proposition B the city may now consider moving unsheltered homeless individuals to designated sites. (Ben Thompson/Community Impact Newspaper)
Austin City Hall notebook: Designated campsites for the homeless are back on the table

City staff had previously dismissed developing official camping locations in 2019, but new directives from City Council this week could revive the concept in Austin.

Wag-A-Bag is headquartered in Round Rock. (Megan Cardona/Community Impact Newspaper)
Wag-A-Bag to operate under new ownership, name; Austin, TxDOT at odds over I-35 overhaul; and more top Central Texas news

Read the most popular business and community news from the past week from the Austin area.

The Highland Tech Center is an office complex that finished redevelopment in March. (Courtesy Aquila Commercial)
North Central Austin business news: Office complex opens in Highland, picnic meals offered in the parks and more

Mes Amis is an outdoor dining service that provides baskets with French-style cuisine for picnics. Two new fitness studios, Hive + Honey and Regymen, are also now open.

Stephanie Hayden-Howard will become an assistant city manager in Austin on May 10. (Jack Flagler/Community Impact Newspaper)
Role changes coming for health officials leading Austin-Travis County COVID-19 efforts

Dr. Desmar Walkes will take over as Austin's next medical director and local health authority as Dr. Mark Escott and Stephanie Hayden-Howard transition to new roles with the city.

Barton Springs Pool, shown here in March 2020, will require reservations for residents wishing to visit after 8 a.m. starting on May 17. (Community Impact Newspaper staff)
Barton Springs Pool will require reservations starting May 21

Visitors who want to visit the pool after 8 a.m. will have to make a reservation for a two-hour block of time.

Road closure stock image
TxDOT to demolish I-35 ramp in North Austin early Saturday morning

State crews will perform controlled implosions of the northbound I-35 to northbound US 183 flyover between 6-8 a.m. in the morning on May 8 and May 15.

A pilot Austin Police Department cadet class is now set to commence in June under an updated training regimen and with additional city and community oversight on the APD academy's culture and curriculum. (John Cox/Community Impact Newspaper)
Austin City Council votes to restart APD cadet training in June, with framework for ongoing reviews of pilot academy

The Austin Police Department's 144th cadet class will now kick off training next month, with continued oversight of APD's instruction and culture throughout the 34-week academy process.

Holland Photo Imaging celebrates 40 years in business this year. (Courtesy Holland Photo Imaging)
The latest business news in South Central Austin

1. Holland Photo Imaging, located at 2125 Goodrich Ave., Ste. A, Austin, is celebrating its 40th anniversary in the community this year. Founded in 1981 by Pete Holland, the business has been owned by residents Brian and Morgan Morrison since 2006. Holland Photo Imaging offers film processing, printing, framing, photo restoration and archiving services. 512-442-4274.

A sign advertises a property for rent in Austin on May 6. Local eviction orders remain in place through August 1 protecting most tenants from eviction. (Jack Flagler/Community Impact Newspaper)
Local eviction moratoriums remain in effect despite federal judge’s decision

The May 5 ruling from a U.S. District Court judge striking down a federal moratorium does not affect orders in place in Austin or Travis County.

Q2 Stadium in North Austin
U.S. women’s national soccer team to debut Q2 Stadium next month

The USWNT takes on the Nigerian national team at Q2 Stadium ahead of the summer Olympic Games.