Tarrant DA says ‘no’ to refiling charges against ex-Arlington officer

Tarrant County District Attorney Sharen Wilson.
Tarrant County District Attorney Sharen Wilson. Star-Telegram archives

District Attorney Sharen Wilson has told the family of African-American teenager shot by a former Arlington police officer that prosecutors will not refile charges against the officer.

Last week, a Tarrant County grand jury declined to indict former officer Brad Miller, 49, for the fatal shooting of Christian Taylor, a 19-year-old Mansfield Summit High School graduate who played football at Angelo State University.

Attorney Michael Heiskell wrote Friday to Wilson asking that charges of voluntary manslaughter or criminal negligent homicide be filed against Miller.

Wilson said no.

“The shooting of Christian Taylor by Officer Miller occurred during his attempt to arrest Mr. Taylor for a myriad of crimes Taylor had committed, and was still committing, at an active crime scene,” Wilson said in a letter to Heiskell.

“You assert that Officer Miller was a rogue officer, or acted unreasonably. That assertion is not supported by the facts. By all accounts, Taylor was acting erratically, and in a manner dangerous to himself and the officers on the scene. When confronted, he continued to aggressively advance on the officers even after the attempt to Taser him. Based on the facts and the law, the unfortunate need for the use of deadly force was neither unreasonable nor rogue.”

Heiskell said Tuesday that he received Wilson’s reply late Monday, but is waiting to receive her legal reasoning and applicable legal standards that support her position.

Heiskell said Miller acted alone, leaving the side of his fellow officers, as well as his training officer, to go it alone and pursue Taylor. Miller fired his gun rather than deploying his Taser, as his training officer did, and there was no evidence to support any self-defense claim on Miller’s part, Heiskell said.

On the same day that Miller was no-billed, the grand jury also declined to indict Ed McIver Jr. in the shooting of Fort Worth police officer. Prosecutors immediately said they would refile charges against McIver and present the case to another grand jury.

“We want to ensure that there is no double standard employed in this decision as it contrasts with the decision in the McIver case where charges were immediately re-filed after the no-bill,” Heiskell said.

Heiskell quoted Wilson’s spokeswoman, Samantha Jordan, who said McIver should be prosecuted because “it is not acceptable to fire upon police officers acting in the line of duty.”

Heiskell wrote in a statement: “We hope and pray that you feel similarly that Miller should be prosecuted [because it is] ‘unacceptable’ that an unarmed teen exhibiting signs of psychosis should be fired upon by a rogue officer acting recklessly in a controlled perimeter environment.”

But in her letter, Wilson said Taylor succumbed to the “scourge of drugs,” and that led to his undoing. According to Wilson’s letter, Taylor talked about LSD making him powerful and above mankind just hours before the incident at the dealership on Aug. 7.

“The scourge of drugs is the true threat to our society,” Wilson’s letter states. “Not the police; and certainly not the police who acted lawfully in the tragic death of Taylor.”

Arlington police Chief Will Johnson fired Miller shortly after Taylor’s death because he failed to formulate an arrest plan with his supervisor and his fellow officers and didn’t wait for other officers to assist in apprehending the burglar, Johnson said.

Johnson said Miller “exercised poor judgment” that led to “cascading consequences.”

His “unilateral decision to enter the building alone and to pursue [Taylor] helped create an unrecoverable outcome,” Johnson said.

This includes material from Star-Telegram archives.

Mitch Mitchell: 817-390-7752, @mitchmitchel3

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