The Arlington, Texas, police officer who shot and killed 19-year-old Christian Taylor at a car dealership last week has been fired, department chief Will Johnson told reporters at a press conference on Tuesday.
Johnson stressed that his decision to dismiss rookie officer Brad Miller is separate from the criminal investigation into Taylor’s death, which is ongoing and will be evaluated by a grand jury, but that “a preponderance of evidence available to me and the facts revealed by the investigative team” indicated that Miller had shown “poor judgment” and created “an environment of cascading consequences” with several bad decisions made in the moments before the shooting.
In Johnson’s description of the incident, Taylor was inside the building and talking through a locked glass door with police outside when Miller’s training officer, Cpl. Dale Wiggins, paused in the process of establishing a perimeter to consult with other officers on the scene.
What Johnson says happened next, from the Dallas Morning News:
Miller kept going and after spotting the broken glass that Taylor had driven his Jeep through, entered into the showroom alone. Taylor ran to a different part of the building and tried to break through a glass door to get out, Johnson said.
Miller followed Taylor and told him to get on the ground. Taylor turned to Miller and began to “rapidly approach while cursing,” Johnson said. He said Miller retreated while giving commands.
Wiggins, urgently trying to rejoin Miller, entered the building and saw Taylor approaching Miller who was stationary. Wiggins removed his Taser from its holster and heard a pop. Johnson said [Wiggins] thought it was Miller deploying his Taser, but it turned out to be Miller firing his weapon the first time, though it’s unclear if he hit Taylor.
Wiggins used his Taser and Taylor continued to advance toward Miller, who then fired his weapon three more times. Taylor was about seven to 10 feet away from Miller when the shots were fired. During the course of the incident, there was no physical contact between Miller and Taylor, Johnson said.
Johnson relayed statements made by Officer Miller to investigators that, in spite of the fact that Cpl. Wiggins had joined him by the time of the shooting, he was “in fear, that he believed he was alone inside the building and that he would be overpowered by Mr. Taylor.” The confrontation, Johnson said, was precipitated at least in part by Miller’s violations of department protocol in entering the building on his own without coordinating with other officers.
The Morning News adds that because Miller hadn’t yet completed his field training for the department, the firing is not subject to appeal.
Amid protests over the use of deadly force in the Taylor case, Arlington police released a recording earlier this week of communications between dispatchers and officers responding to the call at the Classic Buick GMC dealership. Johnson said during his press conference that the department had invited the Dallas field office of the FBI to monitor the investigation and that federal involvement is possible if evidence of a civil rights violation is uncovered.
Christian Taylor’s father Adrian told the Washington Post on Tuesday that “relieved wouldn’t be the word” to describe his reaction to Miller’s firing. “I’m not a man of revenge, and the results can’t bring my son back. … Right now I just feel sorry for my family and his family and for the whole nation. I just hope it makes a change because this is happening too much.”