The FBI has been asked to investigate the death of an unarmed black Division II college football player who was fatally shot by police responding to a call from security at a car dealership last week, an incident that quickly spiked on social media and drew the attention of Serena Williams.
Christian Taylor, a 19-year-old player at Angelo State in Texas, was shot by a white police officer early Friday morning and Arlington, Texas, Police Chief Will Johnson announced Saturday that he has asked the FBI to participate in the case, to review all investigative work and findings. Footage of the incident shows Taylor entering the dealership and driving his SUV through its window.
In the immediate aftermath of the incident, #ChristianTaylor quickly became a trending topic and Williams tweeted before surveillance video was released:
Really??????!!!!!!!!!!? are we all sleeping and this is one gigantic bad nightmare? #ChristianTaylor how many hashtags now?
— Serena Williams (@serenawilliams) August 8, 2015
“How many hashtags now” refers to the online movements that followed racially charged incidents since the shooting of Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown and others: #BlackLivesMatter, #AllLivesMatter, #PrayForFerguson, #HandsUpDontShoot, to name a few. Responses to Williams’ tweet were fairly evenly divided among those who agreed with her and those who noted that the victim was doing something illegal at the time.
The officers responded to a 911 call from the dealership’s security company, which was alerted by motion-sensor cameras, a police spokesman told the Post in an email. “They provided us updates as to the suspect’s actions and whereabouts until we arrived,” Lt. Christopher Cook of the Arlington police media office e-mailed the Post.
Brad Miller, a first-year Arlington police officer, and another officer discovered Taylor in the dealer’s showroom after 1 a.m. Friday, according to Johnson. The surveillance video appears to show Taylor kicking in a car’s windshield before driving his own SUV through the glass entrance. Taylor would not surrender and officers pursued him, with Miller, who had never discharged his weapon in the line of duty, firing at Taylor. The other officer used a stun gun on Taylor, who is from Arlington.
Miller, now on administrative leave, was completing the final stages of his field training and was with a police veteran of almost 20 years. Bringing in the FBI, Cook told the Post in an email, “increases our level of transparency and bolsters public confidence that the end result will be fair and objective.”
“Our nation has been wrestling with the topics of social injustice, inequities, racism and police misconduct,” Johnson said Saturday, adding. “We recognize the importance of these topics, the impact these issues have on communities throughout our nation, and we pledge to act in a transparent manner in an effort to alleviate these concerns.”