Brother of man shot by Austin cop says he will spend “every dollar I have” on police reform

“I have to make sure that there is justice for Raj and that this doesn’t happen to any other family,” said Johann Moonesinghe.

AUSTIN, Texas – A little over a month after a Austin police When a police officer shot dead a man standing on his porch, the victim’s brother announced he had set up a foundation and invested millions of dollars in police reform.

The family of 33-year-old Rajan Moonesinghe claim he was shot dead by officers without warning.

On November 15, APD officers first responded to an 911 call made after midnight, where the caller said a man was standing outside with a gun pointed at his own home.

Rajan’s family said he called a friend and said he believed there was an intruder at his home.

As officers made their way to the scene, the caller told emergency services that the man, identified as Rajan, had shot into his own home.

Officer Daniel Sanchez and Officer Stephen Markert arrived at 00:33 in separate police vehicles. Sanchez saw Rajan and gave him a verbal order to drop the gun, APD said. Immediately after giving the order, police said Sanchez fired his department-approved firearm at Rajan, causing him to fall to the ground.

Police said Markert verbally ordered Rajan to show his hands but received no response. Officer Luis Brito then arrived at the scene and all three approached Rajan on the porch and began life-saving operations.

Rajan was taken to hospital minutes later, where he succumbed to his injuries.

No one else was injured in the incident. The police found nobody in the house.

Body camera video of the incident shows Sanchez shooting Rajan multiple times after he gave the order to drop the gun. Video of the doorbell ringing from the house showed Rajan aiming a rifle at the house and firing when police arrived at the scene.

Portions of the video from that night have been edited as the investigation continues.

Per APD protocol, Sanchez was placed on administrative leave.

push for reforms

In the weeks that followed, Rajan’s brother Johann Moonesinghe said life had been very hard.

“I took time off for the first time,” says Johann, who co-founded the finance and technology app “inkind” with Rajan. “It was just really, really hard. No one ever expected it, and I think it was even more difficult because it was a battle with the police to get answers and find out what’s going on.”

Johann said he, his parents and other brothers were devastated. He claimed Austin police initially told the family that the person who was killed outside Rajan’s home was a white man, giving the family false hope that Rajan might still be alive. Austin Police confirmed two days later that it was indeed Rajan who died. Johann also said Austin police took Raj’s phone, which contains photos his family cherishes, and they feared they would not get it back. He said it was a tumultuous experience with APD from the start.

But despite his sadness, Johann said he puts his grief into action.

“Anyone can just look at the ring cam and bodycam and see what happened,” Johann said, adding that he felt the responding police officers were wrong about what happened that night.

In December Johann founded the “Rajan Foundation”. In this way, and with the help of corporations and corporations that have already pledged substantial funds to the foundation, Johann intends to invest millions of dollars in police reform.

Ideas range from investing in non-lethal policing tools to working with city leaders and police departments on implicit bias training to eliminate discriminatory behavior. Johann said he would even go so far as to put up billboards warning other entrepreneurs like him and Rajan to stay away from Austin for their own safety.

“There are a lot of casualties in our position out there that I’m sure have been through and don’t have the resources that we have,” Johann said.

Johann told KVUE the billboards are a last resort if the city doesn’t work with him to create a policing and policy change.

“We will do everything to make our voice heard,” said Johann. “When Raj was buried I made him a promise. I said, ‘Raj, I will be an unstoppable force of justice for you. And I will make sure this doesn’t happen to any other family.’”

Johann called his brother friendly and selfless. He said he was the last to eat at dinner to make sure everyone had enough to eat and that he once gave a Lakers jersey to a homeless man because he needed a jersey.

“I can’t guarantee something like this won’t happen again, but even if our actions save a life or two, Raj would be happy. Raj would be okay to die if it means someone else stays alive,” Johann said. “Literally whatever it takes – I will spend every dollar I have, every breath I have, every minute I have to make sure Raj is fair and that this doesn’t happen to any other family.”

KVUE contacted APD for an update on the case. Austin Police said:

“It is still an active investigation. The department respects the investigation and the trial process and will have no further comment at this time.”

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Laura Coffey

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