AUSTIN – Two officers who were involved in the fatal shooting of a man at a South Austin apartment complex in 2016 will not face charges, District Attorney Margaret Moore said Friday.
Moore said Brett Fritz and Officer Bernardo Ramirez were justified in their use of force in the Sept. 14, 2016 shooting of Morgan Crocker. KVUE reported that police were called to the Sedona Springs apartment complex for a report of a suspicious person.
"After spending approximately an hour in the apartment complex trying to locate a suspect, identify if there were any vehicles broken into, they finally cleared the call, unable to locate that suspect," said then-Austin Police Chief of Staff Brian Manley.
During the incident, police said they received another 911 call around 20 minutes later reporting the same suspicious person. The district attorney’s office said Fritz spotted the suspect, later identified as Crocker, and Crocker ran from Fritz through the apartment complex. Fritz was able to successfully deploy his taser on Crocker after the second try, and he fell in a grassy area. Moore’s office said Fritz was unable to see Crocker’s hands once he fell to the ground and did not comply with the officer’s commands to show his hands.
"This person ended up running from the officer and there was a foot chase that took place through the apartment complex," Manley said in 2016. "During the foot chase the officer broadcast the direction, a supervisor came up on the radio, we were calling for air support, canine support, again, trying to bring this person into custody."
The district attorney’s office said Ramirez had responded and heard Fritz commanding Crocker to show his hands. Crocker then rolled over and faced them with a gun in his hands and opened fire, Moore’s office said. Fritz and Ramirez returned fire, and the district attorney’s office said a total of 18 rounds – six of which from Crocker’s pistol – were fired.
The district attorney’s office said Crocker managed to walk several feet away before he collapsed between two cars. He later died from his injuries.
"When he rolled over and produced that weapon and fired at our officers, they were in very close proximity and they did an outstanding job of reacting to the deadly force that was put their way. It's unfortunate that we lost a life tonight, that this individual chose to, to attempt to take an officer's life and as always we try to preserve life and our hearts go out to the families of this individual once we have him identified, but I say having watched that video, we're fortunate we're not standing before you tonight talking about our officers being seriously injured or killed,” Manley said in 2016.
Then-APD Chief Art Acevedo told KVUE after the shooting he has "been thoroughly briefed and I am amazed and thankful neither one of our officers was struck and killed by gunfire."
Moore’s office added that a full discussion of the facts leading to the decision would be posted on the District Attorney’s Civil Rights Unit page