Dear Members, Mayor and Staff leaders,

 

It is with enormous frustration that the undersigned groups renew our demand — after weeks of protest and major changes unanimously passed by City Council — for new leadership at the top of Austin’s public safety department, and in particular our demand that you sideline Chief Brian Manley.

 

Chief Manley’s resistance to the changes directed by City Council is loud and clear, and evidenced most recently by the proposed release of body camera footage of the Mike Ramos shooting. Let us be very clear. We support the release of body camera footage. However, we do not trust what Chief Manley is about to do by releasing a video without complying with his own agreed editing policies, and we object to re-traumatizing the family and the community. We are concerned that the video editing will be slanted against Mike Ramos, another example of police blaming the victim.

 

Community organizations agreed to a policy that would allow APD to provide an edited and compiled version of body camera video ONLY because the proposed policy gave Farah Muscadin, our Director of Police Oversight, a role in the process of creating that video. We spoke clearly to Manley and his team as the new policy was discussed, emphasizing that the community would not trust APD to give a neutral and fair edit of the available video, and that we needed to know that someone in the process would be the eyes and ears of the public in this process. It is a testament to Muscadin and her staff that we agreed to this edited “explainer video” approach as long as she was involved.

 

We learned this week that a video was created out of the Mike Ramos footage without the participation of Farah Muscadin. We learned that Farah Muscadin would be “shown” the video today and that it would be released on Monday at 8am. It would be incredible that Manley would violate his own policy on its first use, except that we’ve already seen such behavior (after bystander video caught officers using a neck restraint immediately after Manley announced that such maneuvers were no longer allowed). 

 

We do not believe this video release violation around the Ramos case is an accident. The Mike Ramos shooting has been the highest profile death at the hands of Austin police since the shooting death of David Joseph in 2016. Bystander video showing Ramos standing with his hands up has become an iconic symbol of all that’s wrong with policing in Austin and elsewhere. We believe that if there is a way to smear Ramos and defend the officer who shot him by editing the body camera footage, that Chief Brian Manley will do that. ONLY if Office of Police Oversight is granted full participation in the editing process will we believe that the outcome is likely to be fair to the family and the community.

 

So again, we restate our central concern that this community can no longer act in partnership with Chief Manley, Assistant Chief/ Chief of Staff Troy Gay, and Assistant City Manager Rey Arellano. There is almost ZERO community trust in the Austin Police Department due to leadership of the aforementioned. You must ask them to resign. Further, we ask that you release all dash cam video, body cam video and audio, including the 911 call audio to the public unedited OR that you stop this process in its tracks and restart in partnership with the Office of Police Oversight, with time to review all the material and participate substantively in the creation of any edited version of footage BEFORE it is released.

 

Chief Manley Must Resign, Department Must Follow its Own Policies

Dear Members, Mayor and Staff leaders,

It is with enormous frustration that the undersigned groups and community members renew our demand -- after weeks of protest and major changes unanimously passed by City Council -- for new leadership at the top of Austin’s public safety department, and in particular our demand that you sideline Chief Brian Manley.

Chief Manley’s resistance to the changes directed by City Council is loud and clear, and evidenced most recently by the proposed release of body camera footage of the Mike Ramos shooting. Let us be very clear. We support the release of body camera footage. However, we do not trust what Chief Manley is about to do by releasing a video without complying with his own agreed editing policies, and we object to retraumatizing the family and the community. We are concerned that the video editing will be slanted against Mike Ramos, another example of police blaming the victim.

Community organizations agreed to a policy that would allow APD to provide an edited and compiled version of body camera video ONLY because the proposed policy gave Farah Muscadin, our Director of Police Oversight, a role in the process of creating that video. We spoke clearly to Manley and his team as the new policy was discussed, emphasizing that the community would not trust APD to give a neutral and fair edit of the available video, and that we needed to know that someone in the process would be the eyes and ears of the public in this process. It is a testament to Muscadin and her staff that we agreed to this edited “explainer video” approach as long as she was involved.

We learned this week that a video was created out of the Mike Ramos footage without the participation of Farah Muscadin. We learned that Farah Muscadin would be “shown” the video today and that it would be released on Monday at 8am. It would be incredible that Manley would violate his own policy on its first use, except that we’ve already seen such behavior (after bystander video caught officers using a neck restraint immediately after Manley announced that such maneuvers were no longer allowed).

We do not believe this video release violation around the Ramos case is an accident. The Mike Ramos shooting has been the highest profile death at the hands of Austin police since the shooting death of David Joseph in 2016. Bystander video showing Ramos standing with his hands up has become an iconic symbol of all that’s wrong with policing in Austin and elsewhere. We believe that if there is a way to smear Ramos and defend the officer who shot him by editing the body camera footage, that Chief Brian Manley will do that. ONLY if Farah Muscadin and her staff (so she does not have to do this herself) are granted full participation in the editing process will we believe that the outcome is likely to be fair to the family and the community.

So again, we restate our central concern that this community can no longer act in partnership with Chief Manley, Assistant Chief/ Chief of Staff Troy Gay, and Assistant City Manager Rey Arellano. There is almost ZERO community trust in the Austin Police Department due to leadership of the aforementioned. You must ask them to resign. Further, we ask that you release all dash cam video, body cam video and audio, including the 911 call audio to the public unedited OR that you stop this process in its tracks and restart in partnership with the Office of Police Oversight, with time to review all the material and participate substantively in the creation of any edited version of footage BEFORE it is released.

Sincerely,

Community member

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