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APD releases bodycam footage from Nov. 15 incident where officer shoots, kills cofounder of software startup

Police responded after receiving a 911 call reporting that Rajan David Moonesinghe was pointing and firing a rifle into his home.

AUSTIN, Texas — As the Austin Police Department continues investigating an officer-involved shooting, they released bodycam footage from the Nov. 15 incident on Thursday. 

APD officers first responded to a 911 call received around 12:30 a.m. where the caller stated there was a man with a gun outside a house in the 2200 block of South Third Street. The caller later said the man was holding a rifle and was pointing it at his own home.

As officers were on their way to the scene, the caller told 911 dispatchers that the man, identified as Rajan David Moonesinghe, fired into his own home. The caller said the police were on the scene and Moonesinghe fired again, APD said. 

Officer Daniel Sanchez and Officer Stephen Markert arrived at 12:33 a.m. in separate police vehicles. As Markert arrived at the residence, he heard shots fired and realized he was directly in front of where Moonesinghe was located. Both officers drove past the residence and exited their vehicles. 

Sanchez saw Moonesinghe and gave him a verbal command to drop the gun, APD said. Immediately after giving the command, police said Sanchez fired his department-approved firearm at Moonesinghe, prompting him to fall to the ground. 

Markert made contact with Sanchez after he fired the gun. Police said Markert gave Moonesinghe a verbal command to show his hands but did not receive a response. Officer Luis Brito then arrived at the scene and all three approached Moonesinghe on the porch of the residence and began life-saving measures. 

Officers determined no one was in the home. 

Austin-Travis County EMS arrived on the scene at 12:37 a.m. and continued life-saving measures Moonesinghe was taken to the hospital, where he died from his injuries. 

No one else was hurt in the incident. 

Body cam video from the incident shows Sanchez firing at Moonesinghe multiple times after giving the command to drop the gun. Ring doorbell video from the home showed Moonesinghe pointing a rifle into the home and firing as police arrived at the scene. 

Parts of the video from that night have been redacted as the investigation continues. 

As per APD protocol, Sanchez was placed on administrative leave. He has been with the department for nearly three years. A criminal investigation by APD and the Travis County District Attorney's Office is underway alongside and administrative investigation. 

The materials released Thursday include:

  • 911 audio
  • Police radio traffic
  • Ring camera video
  • Body-worn camera - Officer Daniel Sanchez
  • Body-worn camera - Officer Stephen Markert
  • Body-worn camera - Officer Luis Brito

WARNING: The graphic materials can be viewed in the playlist below. Viewer discretion is advised.

Johann Moonesinghe, the brother of the deceased, released the following statement after the video's release:

“Yesterday, I had the opportunity to view the police footage and security footage of the last minutes of my brother’s life. As difficult as that was, it was an incredibly important step towards finding out the truth of the events leading up to his murder by police on November 15, 2022. The video clearly shows that Raj never threatened the officers, he didn’t even know they were there. I’d encourage everyone to watch the videos being released today to make their own judgments. Thank goodness Raj had his Ring security camera on his porch because, without it, the police would have continued to lie about what happened that night.

“After watching the video, it is evident that the officer who shot Raj did this without identifying himself, without thinking, and before giving my brother a chance to explain who he was and why he was outside. Instead, he arrived without flashing lights or sirens, pulled out an assault rifle, took a hidden defensive position behind a fence 25 yards away, and killed my brother. He began firing before finishing his command to ‘drop your gun’ and continued to fire once Raj had dropped his gun and put his hands up. and continued to fire once Raj had dropped his gun and put his hands up. It’s clear from the security footage that Raj didn’t even know the police officer was there. His last words as he lay on the ground were ‘it wasn’t me.’

“Instead of getting justice for Raj, the Austin Police Department continues with its attempts to cover up what happened. The security footage they released today is an edited version that intentionally removes the interaction that Raj had with his neighbor one minute beforehand where he told her there was someone in his house and yelled into his home, ‘I’m calling the police, get out of my house.’

“It is beyond comprehension that the police acted this way. The police knew he was the homeowner concerned with a potential intruder. They shot first and asked questions later. As an Austinite myself, I’m outraged to think that these are the people tasked with protecting our community.

“Raj was a loving son who took care of our parents financially and the co-founder of a very successful tech company which we moved to Austin in 2018. We ask the City and the District Attorney to do their jobs and hold the officer accountable. Otherwise, these senseless shootings will continue and more innocent people will be shot and killed by Austin police officers.”

Thomas Villarreal, president of the Austin Police Association, released the following statement on Friday:

"The Austin Police Association understands very well that any loss of life is tragic. I cannot imagine the pain that the family of Mr. Moonesinghe is feeling right now. My heart also goes out to the involved officer in this case. Officers are dispatched to calls each and every day in which they encounter people in a multitude of situations; some of which become deadly force situations. The situation that Officer Sanchez found himself in is absolutely tragic for all parties involved."

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