Texas City Settles With Family of Man Killed by Police

May 23, 2017
By David Lee

DALLAS (CN) – A Dallas-area suburb has agreed to pay $850,000 to settle claims by the family of a black man who was shot and killed by a white police officer at a car dealership two years ago.

Christian Taylor, 19, was shot four times in August 2015 inside the closed showroom of Classic GMC Buick in Arlington.

Security camera footage showed Taylor, a sophomore football player at Angelo State University, walking up to several cars in the parking lot after midnight, jumping up and down on vehicles, kicking the windshield of a Ford Mustang, then driving his Jeep through the glass exterior of the showroom.

Police Chief Will Johnson fired the shooter, Officer Brad Miller, within days “for exercising poor judgment” in pursuing Taylor into the building alone against department policy and putting other officers in danger.

Johnson said at the time he had “serious concerns” about the “rationale articulated” by Miller for his use of deadly force.

He said Miller fired after Taylor failed to comply with commands to get on the ground, and was “actively advancing towards” Miller.

A Tarrant County grand jury declined to indict Miller in June 2016.

Taylor’s death attracted national attention as it came within days of the one-year anniversary of the shooting death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo.

The Tarrant County Medical Examiner later determined Taylor had the synthetic drug NBOMe in his system, as well as signs of recent use of marijuana. NBOMe is “known to cause distorted perceptions, agitation and hallucinations” and has “been associated with random and bizarre behavior,” according to the autopsy.

The Arlington City Council is expected to approve the $850,000 settlement at its meeting Tuesday evening, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported.

Taylor’s family has yet to sue the city of Arlington. Both sides attended a pre-suit mediation in November that failed to result in a settlement but have now reached an agreement, according to a city staff report.

Taylor’s father, Adrian Taylor Sr., said the settlement will not bring peace to his family.

“The main thing about the settlement is we can’t be satisfied with any amount of money, because it can’t bring my son back,” he told the Star-Telegram on Tuesday. “Our goal is to get a community center in his name.”

Arlington officials did not immediately respond to an email requesting comment Tuesday afternoon.

From Courthouse News.

Medical Examiner Says Christian Taylor Was High on Drugs

September 3, 2015
By David Lee
DALLAS (CN) – The unarmed black teenager a white, rookie police officer shot to death at a Dallas-area car dealer was high on marijuana and a psychedelic drug, according to a county medical examiner’s autopsy.
Christian Taylor, 19, was shot four times on Aug. 7 inside the closed showroom of Classic GMC Buick in Arlington, between Fort Worth and Dallas.
A security camera showedTaylor, a sophomore football player at Angelo State University, walking up to several cars in the parking lot at 1:05 a.m., jumping up and down on vehicles, kicking the windshield of a Ford Mustang, then driving his Jeep through the glass exterior of the showroom.
Postmortem toxicology results showed Taylor had a blood concentration of 3.1 ng/mL of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which is “consistent with recent use” of marijuana, according to an autopsy report released Wednesday evening by the Tarrant County Medical Examiner.
The 17-page report states Taylor also had 0.76 ng/mL of the synthetic drug NBOMe in his system. NBOMe is “known to cause distorted perceptions, agitation and hallucinations” and has “been associated with random and bizarre behavior,” according to the autopsy.
Two forms of NBOMe were found in Taylor’s blood and urine – psychedelic 25i-NBOMe and hallucinogenic 25h-NBOMe. NBOMe, known on the street as 25L, has effects similar to LSD, but its side effects are considered more dangerous, according to medical literature.
The autopsy showed that Taylor was shot from the front in his arm, chest, throat and stomach. He was killed two days before the first anniversary of the shooting death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., and again thrust the issues of race and police violence into the national debate.
Several nights of protests at Arlington police headquarters followed, with citizens demanding the firing and criminal prosecution of the shooter, Officer Brad Miller, 49. A recent graduate of the police academy, Miller was serving his 16 weeks of field training when he killed Taylor.
Police Chief Will Johnson fired Miller several days after the shooting, “for exercising poor judgment” in pursuing Taylor inside the building alone against department policy and putting other officers in danger.
Johnson said at the time that he had “serious concerns” about the “rationale articulated” by Miller for his use of deadly force. He said Miller fired after Taylor failed to comply with commands to get on the ground, and was “actively advancing towards Officer Miller.”
Miller cannot appeal his firing, as he was a probationary employee.
His attorney, John Snider, with Lyon Gorsky in Dallas, said Wednesday evening that the autopsy results are a “crucial development” that he hoped would make Johnson reconsider “his rush to judgment” in Miller.
Snider has blasted Johnson for making a “politically expedient decision,” which the attorney called “ an insult to the rank-and-file officers who put their lives on the line” every day.
“While Chief Johnson sits behind his desk and Monday-morning quarterbacks an officer’s actions when coming face to face with a violent felon, his biggest fears are getting a paper cut or losing his six-figure salary,” Snider said on Aug. 11.
“Chief Johnson used 20/20 hindsight to protect his job and appease anti-police activists. Officer Miller made decisions in the heat of a violent confrontation to save his and other officers’ lives.”
Taylor made several Twitter posts in the months before his death about racism and police tactics.
“Police taking black lives as easy as flippin a coin, with no consequences smh, [shaking my head]” he posted on Dec. 24, 2014.
On July 30 this year, he posted: “I don’t wanna die too younggggg.”

From Courthouse News.

Fired Cop’s Lawyer, Union Blast Arlington Police Chief

August 12, 2015
By David Lee
DALLAS (CN) – Police groups and the attorney for former Arlington police officer Brad Miller blasted his firing over the shooting death of Christian Taylor, citing an alleged lack of due process.
John Snider, with Lyon Gorsky in Dallas, spoke out on Miller’s behalf Wednesday morning. Miller, 49, has yet to publicly comment on his involvement in the death of burglary suspect Taylor, 19, inside the Classic GMC Buick dealership early Aug. 7.
Miller graduated from the Arlington police academy in March and was serving the 16 weeks of field training required of new officers.
Johnson fired Miller on Tuesday “for exercising poor judgment” by following Taylor inside a showroom building alone and putting other officers in danger. He said Miller’s “unilateral decision” to go alone and failure to communicate with other officers and develop an arrest plan created “an environment of cascading consequences” that resulted in Taylor’s death.
Johnson said he had “serious concerns” about the “rationale articulated” by Miller for his use of deadly force. He said Miller fired on Taylor after he failed to comply with commands to get on the ground, instead “actively advancing towards Officer Miller.”
Johnson said training officer Wiggins heard a pop from what he believed was Miller’s Taser, but it was the first bullet. Miller fired his service pistol three more times.
Wiggins is still on administrative leave pending an investigation. Miller cannot appeal his termination because he was a probational employee.
Snider blasted Johnson for making a “politically expedient decision” in firing his client that “is an insult to the rank-and-file officers who put their lives on the line” daily.
“While Chief Johnson sits behind his desk and Monday-morning quarterbacks an officer’s actions when coming face to face with a violent felon, his biggest fears are getting a paper cut or losing his six-figure salary,” Snider told The Dallas Morning News. “Chief Johnson used 20/20 hindsight to protect his job and appease anti-police activists. Officer Miller made decisions in the heat of a violent confrontation to save his and other officers’ lives.”
Snider said a four day-long “investigation” and “media theatrics” are not due process.
The Arlington Municipal Patrolman’s Association said hours after Miller’s termination that “every officer, every employee, every American has a right to be free from a rush to judgment without the facts.”
The group “supports Officer Miller’s right to be judged fairly and completely on facts instead of a snapshot developed in only days,” the association said in a statement. “Investigations take time and as Chief Johnson acknowledged, this investigation is not close to being concluded. With that said, our thoughts and prayers are with the Taylor family in this time of grief. We again ask that citizens obey the commands of police officers in order to prevent these tragedies from occurring in the future.”
Kevin Lawrence, director of the Texas Municipal Police Association, said Miller’s firing creates “an environment where nobody will want to be a police officer, and we will wind up with every kind of people we do not want” as police officers.
“It’s amazing that nobody, including Chief Johnson, seems to care about the science” Lawrence told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram Wednesday. “I’m not saying that the officer didn’t do anything wrong, because I don’t know. It’s another knee-jerk reaction based on public pressure.”
Johnson said the decision to fire Miller was his alone after he met with investigators Tuesday. He said the investigation is continuing and that Miller could face criminal charges. Johnson said he based his decision on a “preponderance of evidence available to me and the facts revealed” by investigators.

From Courthouse News.

Texas Cop Fired for White-on-Black Killing

August 11, 2015
By David Lee
DALLAS (CN) – The rookie police officer who shot an unarmed black teenager to death at a car dealer Friday was fired “for exercising poor judgment” and putting other officers in danger, its police chief said.
At the a news conference at police headquarters, Police Chief Will Johnson said that the decision to fire Officer Brad Miller, 49, was his alone, and that he made it after meeting with his investigators.
He said the investigation is continuing and that Miller could face criminal charges when the Tarrant County District Attorney’s separate criminal investigation concludes. Johnson said he based his decision on a “preponderance of evidence available to me and the facts revealed” by his investigators.
Miller fired four shots from his service pistol at Christian Taylor, 19, inside the Classic GMC Buick dealership early Friday morning. Miller recently graduated from the police academy and was serving the 16 weeks of field training required of new officers.
The training officer with him, Dale Wiggins, fired his Taser at Taylor. Wiggins, a 19-year police veteran, has been placed on administrative leave.
“Officer Miller exercised inappropriate judgment by entering the building alone,” Johnson said. “This unilateral decision to enter the building and to continue the pursue deeper into the building to continue contact with Mr. Taylor, along with failing to communicate with fellow officers or develop an arrest plan, created an environment of cascading consequences that produced an unrecoverable outcome.”
Johnson said he had “serious concerns” about the “rationale articulated” by Miller for his use of deadly force. He said Miller fired on Taylor after he failed to comply with commands to get on the ground, instead “actively advancing towards Officer Miller.”
Johnson said training officer Wiggins heard a pop from what he believed was Miller’s Taser, but it was the first bullet.
The dealership released surveillance video on Sunday that shows Taylor driving up to the closed showroom in a Jeep, then calmly walking up to several cars in the parking lot and jumping up and down on them. He kicks in the windshield of a Ford Mustang, then drives his Jeep through the glass exterior of the showroom. There is no video of the shooting because the dealership does not have video surveillance inside its showroom.
Before being shot, Taylor showed officers car keys in his hand and said he wanted to steal a car, Johnson said.
“Although the investigation is not over, my hope is the information shared today can assist in the healing process,” Johnson said. “Some communities and our nation have been torn apart by similar challenges.”
Taylor’s death came two days before the first anniversary of the shooting death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo. That Sunday night protest turned violent and another young black man was shout and critically wounded, allegedly after shooting up a police van with officers inside it.
Johnson answered questions Tuesday night at the monthly meeting of the Arlington branch of the NAACP, which he regularly attends. Branch President Alisa L. Simmons told the group that she met with Taylor’s family on Monday for three hours.
“My heart breaks for them,” she said.
Several people thanked Johnson for firing Miller and for his detailed description of what happened Friday night. The police chief told the NAACP members that “today did not fix anything,” and that lives had been changed forever by the shooting.
“I can’t promise another controversial event won’t happen in Arlington,” he said. “But I can promise we will care and try to respond with a sense of compassion.”
For the second night in a row, dozens of peaceful protesters demonstrated outside police headquarters. Several called for criminal charges and prison time for Miller.
Johnson asked the FBI to help investigate possible violations of civil rights, but the FBI field office in Dallas declined the request Monday, saying it has been “in contact” with Arlington police.
“The Dallas FBI has full confidence in the ability of the Arlington Police Department and Tarrant County District Attorney’s Office to conduct a thorough investigation of this matter,” FBI spokeswoman Allison Mahan said in a statement. “If in the course of the investigation, information comes to light of a potential federal civil rights violation, the FBI is prepared to investigate.”
Police are sharing information with the FBI in case the agency decides to intervene later, Johnson said.
A sophomore football player at Angelo State University, Taylor’s posts on Twitter about racism and police tactics have gone viral since his death.
“Police taking black lives as easy as flippin a coin, with no consequences smh, [shaking my head]” he posted on Dec. 24, 2014.
On July 30 this year, he posted: “I don’t wanna die too younggggg.”
Arlington, pop. 380,000, is between Dallas and Fort Worth.

From Courthouse News.

White Police Officer Kills Black Teen Near Dallas

August 20, 2015
By David Lee
DALLAS (CN) – A white, rookie police officer shot an unarmed black teenager to death Friday at a suburban Dallas car dealership.
Christian Taylor, 19, of Mansfield, was shot repeatedly at the Classic GMC Buick dealership in Arlington early Friday morning. Police said the shooter, Officer Brad Miller, 49, fired four shorts – the first times he fired his service weapon in the line of duty. He was placed on administrative leave pending an internal investigation.
Miller recently graduated from the police academy and was serving the 16 weeks of field training required of new officers. The unidentified training officer who was with him is a 19-year police veteran and fired his Taser, police said.
Arlington Police Chief Will Johnson asked the Dallas field office of the FBI to assist in the investigation for transparency, but he expressed “full confidence” in his department’s “vigorously thorough” investigation.
He acknowledged the national spotlight on the case is “not in isolation,” due to “social injustice, inequities, racism and police misconduct” in other communities.
The fatal shooting came two days before the first anniversary of the police killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., where gunshots from protesters and police were fired Sunday.
“The decision to use deadly force is one of the most difficult and most scrutinized decisions an officer can make,” Johnson said at a news conference Saturday. “It represents the ultimate use of police authority and should be used at a last resort to protect the life of another or the life of a police officer. Because a police officer’s primary mission is the preservation of life, the decision to use deadly force is innately contrary to the goals to preserve the peace and to safeguard life and property.”
Johnson said police were called to the dealership at 1:05 a.m. The car dealer releasedsurveillance video on Sunday that shows a black man driving up to the closed showroom in a Jeep, then calmly walking up to several cars and jumping up and down on them. He kicks in the windshield of a Ford Mustang, then drives his Jeep through the glass exterior of the showroom. Police cruisers and an ambulance arrive in the parking lot minutes later.
Johnson said responding officers ordered Taylor to the ground.
“As officers stood outside the building, they made verbal contact with Mr. Taylor through the glass wall, instructing him to lie on the ground,” the police chief said. “Mr. Taylor was not compliant.”
An “altercation” occurred inside the building when Miller and the second officer caught up to Taylor, but Johnson declined to elaborate on what happened.
A sophomore football player at Angelo State University, Taylor’s posts on Twitter about racism and police tactics have gone viral since his death.
“Police taking black lives as easy as flippin a coin, with no consequences smh,” he posted on Dec. 24, 2014. (Smh probably indicates: Shake my head.)
On July 30 this year, he posted: “I don’t wanna die too younggggg.”
At a Saturday vigil, Taylor’s family said he was a model brother. They questioned whether deadly force was necessary and said Taylor was just a child.
Adrian Taylor said people will make mistakes, and learn from them.
“He didn’t get a chance to learn,” he said. “His life is over.”
Joshua Taylor said he could “ask for nothing more” in a brother.
“Joshua did everything he was asked to do, he took care of his business,” he said. “He definitely [was] on the right path and was getting his life together.”
Classic GMC Buick said on Saturday that its security company told Taylor to leave the lot and that police were coming.
“The death of a young man at the dealership is a tragedy for all people involved,” the Buick dealer said in a statement. “The dealership would never want a person hurt on the premises, and use the video to discourage thefts.”

From Courthouse News.