The Texas chapter of Moms Demand Action and Students Demand Action, both part of Everytown for Gun Safety’s volunteer networks, today released the following statement on recent police violence in Texas. According to new reporting from the Austin-American Statesman, Javier Ambler, a Black man, was killed in police custody March 28, 2019 after a police chase resulting from his failure to dim his headlights to oncoming traffic. Cameramen from “Live PD,” an A&E reality television show, were reportedly in the police car during the chase and filmed his killing. According to the Texas Observer, Michael Ramos, a Black and Latino man, was shot April 24 with a nonlethal round after he indicated that he was unarmed and with his hands in the air; he was then shot and killed by police after attempting to flee.
“There is still much we don’t know, but one thing is clear – two more unarmed Black men have been killed by police officers,” said Melanie Greene, a volunteer with Texas Moms Demand Action. “Our thoughts are with Michael and Javier’s families – they deserve thorough, transparent investigations.”
“Javier Ambler and Michael Ramos should be alive today,” said Nahla Owens, a volunteer with Houston Students Demand Action. “We’re committed to honoring their lives with action to root out the racism and white supremacy in our policing and legal systems, and we join with our community in calling for full, transparent investigations into these tragic killings.”
Javier Ambler and Michael Ramos are only two of the Black and brown people in Texas who have been killed by police or have died in police custody. Botham Jean, a 26-year-old Black man, was murdered in his own apartment by an off-duty police officer. Sandra Bland, a 28-year-old Black woman, was found hanged in a jail cell in Waller County, three days after she was arrested during a traffic stop. Atatiana Jefferson, a 28-year-old Black woman, was shot and killed by a police officer in her own home. The officer has been indicted for murder.
Black people in the United States are far more likely to be shot and killed by law enforcement than their white counterparts, and data from Mapping Police Violence shows that most people killed by police are killed with guns. Black Americans are shot and killed by police at three times the rate of white Americans, and 719 people have been killed by police between 2013 and 2019 in Texas.
Research finds that meaningful use of force policies reduce police shootings. By encouraging de-escalation, utilizing early intervention systems, and ensuring that officers who act in a manner that is criminally negligent can be held accountable, use of force policies can ensure that laws help advance safety and promote trust in the police.