Within seventy-two hours of the devastating events of last Friday morning, Brad Miller, 49-year-old rookie Arlington, Texas police officer, was fired for fatally shooting 19-year-old Christian Taylor. Arlington Police Chief Will Johnson said at a press conference Wednesday, Aug. 12 on the firing of Miller, “I’ve decided to terminate Officer Miller’s employment with the Arlington Police Department for exercising poor judgment … Decisions were made that have catastrophic outcomes.”
On Friday, Aug. 7, Angelo State University sophomore football player, Christian Taylor was captured by surveillance cameras outside Classic Buick GMC in Arlington, stumbling and appearing erratic at approximately 1:20 a.m. Taylor can be seen wearing loosely-fitted shorts and T-shirt with socks and athletic shoes as he shakily climbed, unarmed, over the security rail and proceeded to damage cars on the lot outside the dealership. Taylor then drove his own Jeep through the railing and into the dealer’s showroom. Arlington P.D. responded to the call triggered by the teen’s security breach, Officer Miller shooting the teen four times, killing him moments after the officer can be seen on surveillance cameras entering the dealership.
Chief Johnson fired Officer Miller, who was still in training, for violating department policy. Miller went into the building right after Christian Taylor, alone, without even telling his training officer. Five other officers were setting up a perimeter and making a plan on how they would handle the incident. His training supervisor entered after him, using a taser to subdue Taylor just as Miller fired his first shot into the teen. Heedless or unaware of his supervisor’s presence, Officer Miller then fired three more shots, striking and killing the suspect, armed only with his pocketed keys and cellphone.
Officer Miller’s attorney stated that Chief Johnson “rushed to judgment to quiet protestors.” He said Miller, “made decisions in the heat of a violent confrontation to save his and other officers’ lives.” Miller cannot appeal his termination due to his rookie status.
Arlington’s mayor, Jeff Williams, released a statement on Tuesday, saying, “The racial dynamics of police incidents around the country have driven a wedge between community groups. That’s not characteristic of Arlington, Texas and we don’t want this incident to derail our progress.”
Arlington Municipal Patrolman’s Association, the police union, questions the firing in a statement shared with local media which stated, “Arlington Police Officers responded to a call involving felonious and destructive behavior by the suspect in question. Chief Johnson acknowledged that the suspect refused to surrender and chose to instead advance on a uniformed officer. Chief Johnson acknowledged that the investigation is incomplete. Every officer, every employee, every American has a right to be free from a rush to judgment without the facts.”
Christian Taylor, who would have been returning to Angelo State University in San Angelo, Texas as a sophomore in the fall semester, was described by classmates as “religious” and “a very positive young man.” Josh Taylor, Christian’s older brother, said he was “not angry.” He just wanted to know what happened in the moments leading up to the shooting. He could not fathom why Christian would have been at that dealership that early Friday morning, but believed that the shooting could have been prevented. He said the last thing Christian told him was that he [Christian] was going to change lives, said Phillip Townsend in a WFAA News-8 report on Saturday. “I’m going to miss all of those times just having him around. Just being able to know when I got home, he was going to be there. It’s just something you can’t take back. It’s going to take a long, long time — if ever — for me to get over that,” said Josh.
Mayor Jeff Williams also said Tuesday, “Residents and leaders alike are committed to continuing our efforts to be the most inclusive and representative community possible. But, it is clear we are not there yet.”
The case is now in the hands of the investigators and the grand jury who will hear and deliver a decision on the evidence. Reverend Dwight McKissic, minister of Cornerstone Baptist Church in Arlington said that “Arlington’s up-front-handling of the case likely has defused any tensions that may have arisen,” according to ABC’s News 8 at 6, Wednesday. “I think the Black community is somewhat in a state of shock and awe that somebody’s being factual and fair and objective,” said Rev. McKissic after Chief Johnson took quick and decisive action.
On Wednesday, Christian Taylor’s family finalized funeral plans. A prayer rally was held at the Cornerstone Baptist Church beginning at 7 p.m., Rev. McKissic hosting and Christian’s father speaking, Arlington’s mayor and police chief among the attendees. Funeral services for Christian have been scheduled for Saturday, Aug. 15.