ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — An unarmed college football player was shot dead at a suburban Dallas car dealership by a trainee police officer during a middle-of-the-night burglary call. The death of 19-year-old Christian Taylor has raised some of the same questions as other recent police shootings involving unarmed suspects.
Here are some things to know about the investigation:
THE POLICE ACCOUNT
Police were contacted by a company that manages security cameras at Classic Buick GMC in Arlington at about 1 a.m. Friday. Sgt. Paul Rodriguez, an Arlington police spokesman, told The Associated Press that police were advised that someone had driven a car onto the lot, started to damage another car, then drove his own vehicle into the glass front of the showroom.
Officer Brad Miller and another officer entered the dealership and approached the subject as other officers set a perimeter around the dealership, Rodriguez said.
According to a police statement, an “altercation” of some kind ensued and Miller shot Taylor.
Police Chief Will Johnson said Miller fired four times, hitting Taylor with multiple gunshots. The other officer with Miller used his Taser, but not his gun.
THE ROOKIE OFFICER
Miller, 49, joined Arlington’s police department in September. Although he had completed the police academy and was a fully licensed officer, he was still completing a 16-week field training program required of new officers, Rodriguez said. His training officer was with him at the time of the shooting, Rodriguez said.
Miller has no disciplinary record and had not fired his gun in the line of duty before Friday, Rodriguez said.
His work history before joining the Arlington police is unclear. State records show his name and address listed as an executive with two businesses, one of which was a web hosting service that is now dormant.
THE FOOTBALL PLAYER
Taylor graduated last year from Mansfield Summit High School in Arlington and was listed on Angelo State’s roster as a 5-foot-9, 180-pound defensive back.
In his only known criminal charge, Taylor received six months’ deferred adjudication on a drug charge after police found him with 11 hydrocodone tablets that were not prescribed to him, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported. He completed that sentence and the case was dismissed.
His father, Adrian Taylor, told KTVT-TV in Dallas-Fort Worth that his son was “just a good dude” who would give the shoes off his feet to someone in need. He said he didn’t know why Christian would have been at the car dealership at that time of night, but that he shouldn’t have been killed.
“You know, it could have been too much drinking, he could have been wrong place at the wrong time, he could have gotten something and he didn’t know what he was getting,” Adrian Taylor said.
Police say they are investigating Taylor’s death both as a possible criminal case and to determine whether department rules were broken. Johnson said he’s also asked the FBI’s Dallas field office to investigate the case.
Police officials haven’t yet decided whether they will release video of the incident. Rodriguez said he had not seen it, but that he believed it did not include the showroom where the shooting occurred.
The Tarrant County medical examiner’s office is conducting Taylor’s autopsy. It has not yet released any initial findings on toxicology, and Rodriguez said he wasn’t aware if police found any evidence to suggest Taylor was under the influence.
The medical examiner and the car dealership’s management did not return a phone message Saturday.
Rodriguez said that the investigation would take time because “we’re really trying to focus on the process and get things right.”
“We will demand of ourselves a thorough and transparent organization of what took place,” Rodriguez said Saturday.
Taylor, who was black, was shot by a white police officer two days before the anniversary of the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, an unarmed, black 18-year-old whose death galvanized the “Black Lives Matter” movement and sparked protests that at times turned violent.
Some of the nationwide criticism of police use of force in the last year has happened online, and Taylor’s death resonated on social media, with some posts questioning the official account and calling for video to be released.
Johnson made reference to those debates, saying that “our nation has been wrestling with the topics of social injustice, inequities, racism and police misconduct.”