The 19-year-old college student who was fatally shot by an Arlington police officer last month at a car dealership had a synthetic psychedelic drug and marijuana in his system, the Tarrant County medical examiner’s office reported Wednesday.
Christian Taylor of Arlington, a sophomore football player at Angelo State University, was shot four times by rookie officer Brad Miller, 49, early Aug. 7.
Security video from the Classic Buick GMC dealership shows Taylor jumping on and vandalizing a new Ford Mustang in the parking lot. He later crashed his SUV through the glass front of the showroom. It was inside the showroom that Miller confronted him.
Taylor was killed just two days before the one-year anniversary of the fatal shooting of Michael Brown, who was black, by a white police officer in Ferguson, Mo. Brown’s death galvanized the “Black Lives Matter” movement.
The synthetic drug found in Taylor’s system, 25I-NBOMe, is supposed to mimic the effects of LSD. Its street name is “N-bomb.”
Taylor had 0.76 nanogram of the drug per milliliter of blood in his system at the time of his death, according to the medical examiner. A nanogram is a billionth of a gram.
“Regardless of what may have been in his system, this was still an unjustified death of a young man,” attorney Mike Heiskell, who represents Taylor’s family, told WFAA.
A 2013 report by the Drug Enforcement Administration says the drug was linked to the deaths of at least 19 Americans from March 2012 to August 2013.
It was the subject of a 2014 report by the World Health Organization that said the drug “appears to have stimulant and particularly hallucinogenic effects” and “has been reportedly sold as LSD or as a ‘legal’ alternative to LSD or ‘research chemical,’ usually on the Internet.’”
WHO officials had found no human or animal studies on the drug. The report noted that no safety data had been published on the drug’s toxicity. The DEA declared the drug illegal for two years in November 2013 under the Controlled Substances Act.
Synthetic drugs such as “N-bomb” have inconsistent manufacturing and packaging processes and may contain drastically different dosages, a mix of several drugs and unknown adulterants, according to a DEA news release.
Users are playing Russian roulette, the release said.
The average age of those who died from the drug was 20. In three of the cases, “unpredictable, violent behavior due to 25I-NBOMe toxicity” led to their deaths.
In the case of a 21-year-old male, “a sudden surge of violent behavior caused him to pull over and destroy the interior of the car, and he then became unresponsive,” the release said.
Other fatal cases have been studied in Australia, Belgium, Poland and the United Kingdom, according to the report.
Four shots fired
Taylor was dressed casually that night. He wore a T-shirt, shorts and white socks with black slippers, the medical examiner’s report says.
He also wore ankle weights, which are used to strengthen muscle.
Inside the dealership, one of the six Arlington officers at the scene fired a Taser at Taylor, which struck him in the left part of his chest.
That was followed by four gunshots from Miller at 1:20 a.m., the report states. Taylor was hit in the abdomen, chest and neck.
One of the bullets struck above a tattoo of a Bible verse, Isaiah 54:17, which reads in part, “No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper; and every tongue that shall rise against thee in judgment thou shalt condemn.”
Taylor had an angel tattooed on his left chest, the Bible verse Timothy 1:7 on his left abdomen and a cross on his right arm.
Faith was tattooed on his left arm.
Taylor’s pastor said that two months before his death, Taylor had started texting him his thoughts on Jesus and was told he could share his testimony with the congregation at Koinonia Christian Church in southeast Arlington.
Taylor did everything with passion, “fire shut up in his bones,” the Rev. Ronnie Goines told the Star-Telegram.
The death of another unarmed black teenager quickly fueled social media nationwide.
Professional tennis player Serena Williams tweeted: “Really??????!!!!!!!!!!? are we all sleeping and this is one gigantic bad nightmare? #ChristianTaylor how many hashtags now?”
Arlington Police Chief Will Johnson fired Miller on Aug. 11, saying the officer had “exercised poor judgment.”
The results of the department’s investigation into the shooting will be turned over to the Tarrant County district attorney’s office, which could submit the case to a grand jury.
Arlington police administrators declined to comment on the autopsy report.
“The case will continue progressing through the criminal justice system,” Lt. Chris Cook, a police spokesman, said in an email.
Mitch Mitchell: 817-390-7752, @mitchmitchel3
Monica S. Nagy: 817-390-7792, @MonicaNagyFWST