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Central Texas advocacy group calling for accountability from Austin police

The group is demanding that the police department respond to the families of Alex Gonzales and Raj Monnesinghe, who were both killed by Austin officers.

AUSTIN, Texas — A Central Texas advocacy group is calling for police accountability in Austin.

Working Group 512 will hold a press conference in Austin Friday to talk about recent police shootings. The group is demanding that the Austin Police Department respond to the families of Alex Gonzales and Raj Monnesinghe, who were both killed by Austin officers.

Moonesinghe was shot and killed a few months ago, while Gonzales died in early 2021. 

Gonzales' family has said they feel as though they are still fighting for justice. At a Public Safety Commission meeting on Jan. 9, Gonzales' mother demanded that Police Chief Joseph Chacon fire officers Gabriel Gutierrez and Luis Serrato.

Gonzales was shot in January 2021 on Wickersham Lane in southeast Austin. His girlfriend was also injured in the incident while their infant sat in the backseat. of their vehicle.

Police previously reported that Gonzales was involved in a road rage incident with Gutierrez, who was off-duty at the time and was traveling in a personal vehicle. Police also reported that Gonzales had a gun pointed at Gutierrez, which is when police opened fire, killing him. 

It was also reported that Serrato was on duty and responded to the scene. He reportedly shot Gonzales as Gonzales walked out of the car and reached into the back seat toward his child.

A grand jury cleared Gutierrez and Serrato in December 2022. But Gonzales' mother, Elizabeth Gonzales, said that those officers shouldn't patrol the streets.

"They murdered my son," she said at the Jan. 9 Public Safety Commission meeting. "And I will not quit saying that because Gutierrez and Serrato – they need to lose their jobs and never hold a gun ever again in their life."

Last month, the officers were not indicted by a Travis County grand jury. But Gonzales' parents and his girlfriend have sued the City of Austin and the officers, alleging that they shot Gonzales "without provocation or justification."

The other police shooting that Working Group 512 is protesting is that of Raj Moonesinghe. Just like Gonzales' family, Moonesinghe's family argues that he was wrongfully killed.

On Nov. 15, 2022, Moonesinghe was seen outside his property with an assault-style rifle. He reportedly called a friend, said he thought there was an intruder in his house and fired the gun into his home from the outside.

Officers Daniel Sanchez and Stephen Markert arrived at the scene in separate police vehicles. Sanchez saw Moonesinghe and gave him a verbal command to drop the gun, according to police. Immediately after giving the command, police said Sanchez fired his firearm at Moonesinghe, prompting him to fall to the ground. 

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 Moonsinghe on the front porch and began life-saving measures. Moonesinghe was taken to a hospital, where he died from his injuries.

Moonesingh's brother, Johann Moonesinghe, says the officer who shot his brother did so before he had a chance to drop his gun.

In the time since his brother's death, Johann Monesinghe – who co-founded the finance and technology app inKind with his brother – has set up a foundation called the "Rajan Foundation" to try to put a stop to police shootings.

Working Group 512 claims Austin police are still not giving the Gonzales and Moonesinghe families the information they want about the deaths of their loved ones. The group says police will not comment on the investigations.

Working Group 512's press conference will be held at 11 a.m. Friday at the corner of Eighth Street and South Interstate 35.

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