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Morgan Rankins, 30
Austin, Texas
February 22, 2017

Agencies: Austin Police Department Texas | Travis County District Attorney's Office Texas

Last updated: 4 months ago

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The 30-year-old woman shot and killed by an Austin Police Department officer Wednesday evening has been identified.

Her name is Morgan Rankins, according to Pastor Joseph Parker of David Chapel Missionary Baptist. The Rankins family is asking for privacy and choosing not to share her photo, but they did ask their pastor to share some details of Morgan Rankins’ life with the community.

David Chapel Missionary Baptist Church was part of Rankins’ life from the start. “I've known Morgan since she was born,” says Parker. He says, she had a bright, loving spirit and was close to her loved ones.

“Morgan grew up in a wonderful home. Wonderful family. Wonderful parents,” says Parker.

Wednesday, police say Rankins attempted to run over officers responding to a 911 call at the Rankins family home. Police say Rankins lead police on a chase, crashing into a vehicle on at William Cannon and Manchaca road. According to Austin police, Rankins attempted to run down a third officer placing spike strips in the road before crashing into a pole. Police say after the crash she approached an officer with a knife.

“At which point he gives multiple commands to ‘drop, drop, drop’ and ultimately he fires his weapon when she is so close that he felt his life was in danger,” Austin Police Chief Brian Manley said at an on-scene press conference following the incident.

The shooting happened in South Austin near the intersection of Manchaca Road and Keilbar Lane, police say. Manley explained, it began with 911 calls from a home in the 7900 block of Appomattox Drive. Investigators say someone could be heard in the background saying something about blowing up the house. When officers arrived at the home, they say a Dodge Charger quickly accelerated at them, forcing them to jump out of the way.

Parker says mental illness may have played a part in the events.

“She had a mental illness that was managed by medication. We believe that there was some involvement of that in this incident,” he says.

Parker adds that officers were alerted to Rankins’ mental state. “APD had been told as it was underway that she had a mental illness,” he says.

However, police say the information they got came in as the situation escalated.

“There was a broadcast on our dispatch advising the officer that this individual was attempting to commit suicide by cop. They broadcast that saying that she is attempting to commit suicide by cop and it is two seconds later that our officer broadcasts that shots have been fired,” Manley explained. “It is with a heavy heart that I do give the deepest condolences to her family,” he added

When the investigators were able to conduct a search of the scene Thursday morning, they did locate a knife in close proximity to where Rankins was shot, police say.

The officer involved has been identified by APD as Benjamin Rogers, a veteran of the department for almost four years. He has been placed on paid administrative leave.

The Travis County District Attorney's Office confirms they are investigating this case through their civil rights division. That division investigates all officer-involved shootings. The Office of the Police Monitor and APD internal affairs is investigating as well.

Rankins’ family says they aren’t drawing any conclusions while they await the investigation outcomes. Parker asks the community to keep Rankins’ family in mind.

“So for those people who believe in prayer that they should be praying for them and asking that they find comfort right now,” says Parker.

Wednesday night the Austin Police Department identified Rankins as a 25-year-old Hispanic female. Thursday, the department issued a correction identifying her as a 30-year-old black female.

 

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