Days before he was shot and killed by a police officer Friday in Arlington, Texas, 19-year-old Christian Taylor feared for his life.
“I don’t wanna die too younggggg,” the black college football player posted July 30 on his Twitter account, which makes reference to his fear of dying and his distrust of law enforcement, especially around key dates in the deaths of unarmed black men Michael Brown and Eric Garner at the hands of police.
One week later, and just two days before the anniversary of Brown’s death, Taylor became the latest unarmed black man to be shot and killed by a police officer.
The Angelo State University sophomore was fatally shot during what Arlington police described as a struggle after Taylor allegedly crashed a car through the front window of the Classic Buick GMC dealership at 1 a.m. local time Friday. Police, who were responding to a burglary call when they encountered the scene, “went and confronted him,” police spokesman Sgt. Paul Rodriguez told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. “There was an altercation. An officer discharged his weapon and struck the suspect.”
The officer who shot Taylor, identified by police as 49-year-old Brad Miller, had recently graduated from the police academy in March 2015 and was still in field training working under the supervision of a training officer, according to the police department. Miller was placed on administrative leave, according to standard protocol when an officer uses deadly force.
“We’re having two independent investigations — a criminal and administrative,” Rodriguez said. “As an agency, we take the loss of any human life as serious, but we owe it to our community to conduct a clear and transparent investigation to determine what exactly took place.”
Taylor’s great uncle, Clyde Fuller, told the Star-Telegram that Taylor was “a good kid” and that “something doesn’t sound right” about the police account. Fuller said he didn’t believe his great-nephew would burglarize the dealership and thinks “something is going on that somebody is lying about.”
Taylor, whose death comes amid growing national outcry over the deaths of African-Americans at the hands of police or in police custody, took to Twitter a few days after Brown was shot and killed on Aug. 9, 2014, to say “I don’t feel protected by police.”
Later, in December 2014, after a grand jury in New York City decided not to indict Officer Daniel Pantaleo for the apparent chokehold death of Eric Garner and a month after 12-year-old Tamir Rice was shot by police while paying with a toy gun, he wrote: “Our police system is a joke, when will we ever be protected?” and ”Police taking black lives as easy as flipping a coin, with no consequences.”
Surveillance video does not show the shooting, Rodriguez told the Star-Telegram, and the Arlington police department has not yet implemented a pilot program that would equip officers with body cameras. The spokesman said that the video shows Taylor engaged in “criminal activity” before the shooting, however.
The tag “#ChristianTaylor” has been mentioned over 140,000 times on social media as Taylor’s name becomes the latest in a growing list of young people of color killed in police altercations. According to The Guardian, 695 people have been killed by U.S. police so far in 2015.
The Associated Press contributed reporting to this story.