Just days after the officer involved shooting of an unarmed college football player, Chief of Police Will Johnson announced on Tuesday that officer Brad Miller was fired for “exercising poor judgement,” Officer Brad Miller lost his job because of the August 7 incident at a car dealership in Arlington. Mr. Miller was hired last fall and was still in training when the shooting occurred early Friday morning.
Officer Miller was in the final stages of his field training when he shot Christian Taylor multiple times at a car dealership. Miller told investigators he feared for his safety and thought he would be overpowered, and that he believed he was alone even though his training officer was four feet away, Johnson said. Police were called to the dealership after Taylor allegedly kicked in the windshield of a car and then crashed his Jeep into a showroom door, police said.
Miller entered the dealership alone, without establishing a coordinated response with other officers, the chief said. Miller gave verbal commands to Taylor, who then fled toward another locked door in the building. Another officer reported seeing Taylor charging that door, trying to break it. Meanwhile, Johnson said, Officer Miller moved into position near Taylor and ordered him to get on the ground. Taylor ignored the officer’s command and began advancing toward him and cursing, according to an account from Arlington police Cpl. Dale Wiggins, who had entered the building after Miller and was standing nearby.
There was never any physical contact between the officers and Taylor. It was later found the bulge observed in Taylor’s pocket was his wallet and cellphone. Johnson said criminal investigators will complete their reports regarding the shooting and submit them to the Tarrant County District Attorney’s office. A grand jury will then decide whether there should be any criminal charges against the officers in the case.
The Arlington Municipal Patrolman’s Association said in a statement Tuesday that “every officer, every employee, every American has a right to be free from a rush to judgment without the facts.” “The Arlington Municipal Patrolman’s Association supports Officer Miller’s right to be judged fairly and completely on facts instead of a snapshot developed in only days,” the statement said. “Investigations take time and as Chief Johnson acknowledged, this investigation is not close to being concluded.
The decision to fire Officer Miller is a change in Chief Johnson’s narrative of the events leading up to the shooting. Previously, Chief Johnson told reporters that Officer Miller and his training officer had a confrontation with Mr. Taylor inside the dealership as they tried to arrest him and that led to Officer Miller to fire his weapon. During Johnson’s news conference detailed confrontation revealing that Taylor never reached Officer Miller before he was killed.
Mr. Taylor’s death came days before the anniversary of another death caused by a police shooting: Michael Brown, the black teenager fatally shot by a white police officer last year in Ferguson, Mo., and whose death helped touch off a debate around the country about police interactions and excessive use of force in African-American communities. Chief Johnson has described Mr. Taylor’s death as a “tragedy” and vowed days ago that “there will be consequences” if the shooting turned out to be unjustified. Chief Johnson had asked the Federal Bureau of Investigation to participate in and review its investigation, based on the department’s “commitment to transparency,” Chief Johnson said.
But in a statement released Monday, a spokeswoman for the F.B.I. office in Dallas said the bureau declined the request, saying it had “full confidence in the ability of the Arlington Police Department and Tarrant County district attorney’s office to conduct a thorough investigation of this matter.” The spokeswoman, Allison Mahan, said that if information came to light indicating a potential federal civil rights violation, “the F.B.I. is prepared to investigate.” Tarrant County medical examiner ruled that Taylor died of gunshot wounds to the neck, chest and abdomen.