ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) – A police officer who killed an unarmed college football player during a suspected burglary at a Texas car dealership was fired Monday 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.
Called to the scene of a suspected burglary early Friday morning, Miller pursued 19-year-old 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, Johnson said. He fired his gun three more times, Johnson said.
“Decisions were made that had catastrophic outcomes,” Johnson said.
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.
Taylor, who was black, graduated from high school in Arlington and played football at Angelo State University in West Texas. Miller is white.
There is no video of the shooting, though security camera footage from Classic Buick GMC dealership’s parking lots shows Taylor walking around and damaging some vehicles.
Before his final confrontation with Miller, Taylor allegedly held up a set of car keys and told another officer that he intended to steal a car, Johnson said. He had driven a vehicle through the glass front doors of the showroom and, after officers arrived, was slamming his body into the side of a different part of the building to try to escape, the chief said.
“It is clear from the facts obtained that Mr. Taylor was non-compliant with police demands,” Johnson said.
But the chief said he ultimately decided Miller’s mistakes required his firing. He said it would be up to a grand jury to decide whether Miller’s actions were criminal.
Miller joined the police department in September and graduated from the city police academy earlier this year.
He was still undergoing field training and assigned to a more senior officer, though he was a licensed police officer authorized to carry a weapon. Police have previously said that he had never before fired his weapon in the line of duty.
Police said Miller cannot appeal his firing because he was a probationary employee. Police spokesman Tiara Richard said Miller had retained an attorney but did know the lawyer’s name. The Arlington Municipal Patrolman’s Association had no comment.
While the FBI’s Dallas field office said Monday that it was deferring any investigation to local authorities, Johnson said he was in contact with FBI officials about the case.
Associated Press writer Nomaan Merchant in Dallas contributed to this report.