Chief fires Texas officer who killed unarmed 19-year-old
A police officer who killed an unarmed college football player during a suspected burglary at a Texas car dealership was fired Tuesday for making mistakes that the city’s police chief said caused a deadly confrontation that put him and other officers in danger.
Arlington officer Brad Miller, 49, could also face criminal charges once police complete their investigation, Police Chief Will Johnson said.
Christian Taylor’s death came two days before the anniversary of the death of Michael Brown, an unarmed, black 18-year-old who was fatally shot by a white police officer in Ferguson, Missouri. Brown’s death helped spur protests and a nationwide “Black Lives Matter” movement to demand reforms to how police treat minorities.
Called to the scene of a suspected burglary early Friday morning, Miller pursued 19-yearold Christian Taylor through the broken glass doors of a car dealership showroom without telling his supervising officer, Johnson said.
Instead of setting up a perimeter around the showroom, Miller confronted Taylor and ordered him to get down on the ground, Johnson said. Taylor did not comply. Instead, he began “actively advancing toward Officer Miller,” Johnson said.
Miller’s field training officer, who had followed Miller into the showroom, drew his own Taser. The training officer heard a single pop of what he thought was Miller’s Taser, but Miller actually had drawn his service weapon and fired it at Taylor, who is believed to have been 2.1 to 3 meters away, Johnson said. After Taylor continued to approach, Miller fired his gun three more times.
“Decisions were made that had catastrophic outcomes,” Johnson said.
“This is an extraordinarily difficult case,” Johnson said. “Decisions were made that have catastrophic outcomes.”
The Arlington Municipal Patrolman’s Association issued a statement Tuesday night decrying Johnson’s decision. The group said it supports “Miller’s right to be judged fairly and completely on facts instead of a snapshot developed in only days,” and also expressed sympathy for Taylor’s family.
“We again ask that citizens obey the commands of police officers in order to prevent these tragedies from occurring in the future,” the association said.
An attorney for Miller did not have an immediate comment on Johnson’s announcement. Taylor’s family did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Taylor, who was black, was a graduate of an Arlington high school and a football player at Angelo State University in West Texas. Miller is white.
At a protest Tuesday night outside the Arlington police headquarters, about 60 demonstrators demanded that Miller be charged with a crime.
The firing was “not enough justice,” said Matthew Higgins, 20, one of Taylor’s former high school classmates. “If it was a white person, it probably would have been different.
There is no video of the shooting itself, though security camera footage from Classic Buick GMC dealership’s parking lots shows Taylor walking around and damaging some vehicles.
Ramon Mejia writes with chalk on the sidewalk outside the Arlington Police Department during a vigil for Christian Taylor in Arlington, Texas, Monday, Aug. 10.