An unarmed college football player was shot and killed by a police officer in suburban Dallas, Texas Friday, after he crashed his car through the front window of a car dealership. The teenager, who is black, was identified as 19-year-old Christian Taylor of Arlington, who was enrolled as a sophomore at Angelo State University in San Angelo.
The Arlington Police Department said in a statement, cited by the Associated Press, that officers were responding to a burglary call at 1.a.m. on Friday, when they discovered a car had been driven through the front window of the Classic Buick GMC dealership. The statement added that there was a struggle after the officer approached Taylor, who was a 2014 graduate of Mansfield Summit High School and a football player.
The officer, identified as Brad Miller, 49, shot Taylor during the altercation. Miller, who was placed on administrative leave after the incident, has been with the department since last September after graduating from the police academy in March. He had been working under the supervision of a training officer.
“He [Taylor] was a good kid. I don’t see him stealing no car or nothing like that,” Clyde Fuller, Taylor’s great uncle from Grand Prairie, Texas said, according to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, adding: “They say he’s burglarizing the place by running up in there? Nuh-uh. Something doesn’t sound right.
“I think something is going on that somebody is lying about,” Fuller added. Taylor’s coach at Angelo State, Will Wagner, also tweeted Friday: “Heart is hurting.”
Arlington Police Sgt. Paul Rodriguez said that a criminal and administrative investigation into the shooting will be conducted by authorities, according to the Dallas Morning News. Police said that a criminal investigation will focus on “the use of deadly force,” while an administrative investigation will probe if Miller’s actions were in line with departmental policies.
According to court records from Tarrant County, cited by the Star-Telegram, Taylor was sentenced to six months deferred-adjudication probation last December for possession of 11 hydrocodone tablets that were not prescribed to him. The case stemmed from a September 2013 traffic stop but was dismissed last July after Taylor satisfied the requirements of his probation.
Rodriguez added, according to the Star-Telegram, that the Arlington department is starting a pilot program to get the use of body cameras in place, however, the officers were not wearing them yet.
The case comes amid increasing criticism of use of excessive force by police against black suspects, which led to nationwide protests last year.