Police ask FBI to help investigate shooting of black student

Arlington police chief says Miller shot Taylor after report of suspected burglary

Officer Brad Miller, who is accused of shooting an unarmed black teenager, is seen in a handout photo provided by the Arlington Police Department on August 7th, 2015. Photograph: Arlington Police Department/Handout via Reuters

Officer Brad Miller, who is accused of shooting an unarmed black teenager, is seen in a handout photo provided by the Arlington Police Department on August 7th, 2015. Photograph: Arlington Police Department/Handout via Reuters

 

Police in Arlington, Texas, have asked the FBI to help investigate the shooting death of an unarmed black college student who was killed by a police trainee early Friday inside a car dealership.

Chief Will Johnson of the Arlington Police Department said the trainee, Brad Miller (49), shot and killed Christian Taylor, a 19-year-old football player at Angelo State University in San Angelo, Texas, as he attempted to flee from officers who had been dispatched to the dealership after reports of a suspected burglary.

Johnson pledged “a transparent, thorough and fair investigation”, but warned that it might be “lengthy and at times frustratingly slow”.

He said he had invited Thomas M Class snr, the special agent in charge of the FBI’s Dallas division, to participate.

“Our pledge is to provide answers in the most thorough and expeditious manner possible,” Mr Johnson said at a news conference Saturday night.

He included “an acknowledgment that this instance has not occurred in isolation but rather has occurred as our nation is grappling with the problems of social injustice, inequities, racism and police misconduct”.

Administrative leave

Mr Miller was placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigation, Mr Johnson said.

He said Mr Miller had not yet been interviewed about the incident, a delay he described as “standard police practice”.

He told reporters the department would release recordings of both the 911 call that preceded the incident and police radio traffic, but would not do so until the two officers at the shooting, Mr Miller and his training officer, had submitted statements. He estimated that would take seven to 10 days.

Mr Johnson said the police were called shortly after 1am on Friday to the Classic Buick GMC dealership, where they found Mr Taylor “roaming freely” inside the showroom. A Jeep had crashed through the front window.

Four shots

The officers ordered Mr Taylor to lie down, and when he fled instead they chased him. He was found trying to get out of the building through a locked glass door. Mr Johnson said the two officers had struggled with Mr Taylor and that Mr Miller had fired four shots.

Mr Taylor was struck multiple times, Mr Johnson said, and was declared dead on the scene. Investigators later determined he had no weapon.

The training officer fired no shots. A Taser was also used against Mr Taylor, but Mr Johnson said the department had not determined which officer used it or in what sequence the two weapons were used.

Mr Miller - in his first police job - has been with the Arlington Police Department since September 2014 and has been training in the field under the supervision of a more senior officer since he graduated from the police academy in March, according to a police statement.

Mr Miller had no history of disciplinary action with the department.

Security footage

The dealership released security camera footage of Mr Taylor in its parking lot that prompted a security company to call the police.

The video, posted online by an NBC television affiliate, shows Mr Taylor arriving at the dealership in a Jeep, punching the window of a gray sports car, kicking its windshield and jumping on its roof.

Later, Mr Taylor can be seen driving his car through the parking lot’s closed gate. The police can soon be seen arriving, but the video shows no part of their interaction with Mr Taylor.

In a statement on Friday, the department said its officers did not wear body cameras but that it was in the process of starting a pilot programme to experiment with their use.

Clyde Fuller, Mr Taylor’s great-uncle, told the Star-Telegram of Fort Worth that Mr Taylor was “a good kid” and that he did not believe the police account that he had been committing a crime.

– (New York Times service)