A police officer who killed an unarmed college football player during a suspected burglary at a Texas car dealership was fired Monday for what the city's police chief said were mistakes that caused a deadly confrontation and 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 then 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 shot by a white police officer in Ferguson, Mo.
Taylor, who was black, was a graduate of an Arlington high school and a football player at Angelo State University in West Texas. Miller is white.
There is no video of the shooting itself, though security camera footage from the 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 noncompliant 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's 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 and was authorized to carry a weapon. Police have previously said that he had never fired his weapon in the line of duty before.
Police officials say Miller cannot appeal his firing because he was a probationary employee. Police spokesman Tiara Richard said Miller had retained an attorney. The police union, Arlington Municipal Patrolman's Assn., 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.