The city of Arlington will pay $850,000 to the family of Christian Taylor, a 19-year-old college football player who was unarmed when he was shot and killed by a police officer investigating a burglary at a car dealership in 2015.
The Arlington City Council approved the settlement Tuesday evening with a unanimous vote but no discussion.
Immediately after the vote, the city released a written statement: “This pre-suit settlement is not an admission of guilt or liability. Rather, it is a mutually agreed upon resolution to this unfortunate incident which avoids the personal and financial cost of litigation for all parties involved and dismisses any potential claims.”
Taylor’s father, Adrian Taylor Sr., said the settlement doesn’t bring peace to the family.
“We can’t be satisfied with any amount of money, because it can’t bring my son back,” Taylor said in an interview earlier Tuesday. “Our goal is to get a community center in his name. I’m not even sure that would be enough.”
The family never filed a lawsuit, choosing instead to work with the city on a settlement, Taylor said.
Taylor, a Mansfield Summit High School graduate, was seen on security camera video vandalizing cars at the Classic Buick GMC dealership at Interstate 20 near Collins Street on Aug. 7, 2015. He then crashed a car into the showroom. Police responded to a burglary call, and Taylor was shot four times by 49-year-old rookie officer Brad Miller.
An autopsy revealed that Taylor, who played football at Angelo State University, had traces of marijuana and a synthetic psychedelic drug in his system.
The shooting attracted national attention, occurring in the midst of a string of police shootings of unarmed black men that galvanized the Black Lives Matter movement.
Police Chief Will Johnson fired Miller several days after the incident, saying Miller’s poor judgment and communication failures endangered himself and his fellow officers and led to a “catastrophic outcome.”
A grand jury last June declined to indict Miller, and prosecutors said they would not refile charges against him.
Adrian Taylor Sr. said he feels no relief from the conclusion of the settlement talks “because the sentiment is that I’m still looking for justice.”
The family’s attorney, Michael P. Heiskell, said a community center in Christian Taylor’s name would serve as a continuing reminder to the city “to look at training, to look at community relations and look at diversity ... so these things won’t recur.”
“Hopefully, young people can look back at the mistakes made all around,” he said.
Alisa Simmons, president of the Arlington NAACP, said “justice remains elusive” for the family and community.
“The fact that the officer was no-billed in this case is extremely disappointing to the family and the association, and the settlement doesn’t make us feel any better about it,” Simmons said in an interview after the vote. “There’s no justice here.”
The family did not attend the council meeting.
Taylor’s father said that the family established the Now I Am Christian Foundation in late 2015 to honor his son and that the settlement would be the first significant contribution to the fund.
“But it wasn’t about trying to collect any money or donations,” he said. “We’re just out of pocket doing things for his name and legacy, to not let it die.”
Adrian Taylor Sr. would have the center built in the Arlington area. “He went to Summit High School and played basketball. I want it in the community where he went to school and had his friends.”
Other recent settlements of claims against police
▪ In April 2016, the Arlington City Council voted to award the family of Jonathan Paul a $1.25 million settlement. Paul, 42, died in March 2015 after struggling with Arlington jailers. Two of the jailers were indicted on charges of criminally negligent homicide.
▪ In November 2014, Fort Worth resident Oliver Vaughn Jr., who was jailed in Johnson County for more than a month while denied access to an attorney and a bail bondsman, settled a federal civil-rights lawsuit against county and the private company that managed the county jail. The terms of the settlement were not disclosed.
▪ In October 2013, the Fort Worth City Council approved paying $250,000 to the family of 77-year-old Billie “Joe” Addington, who was killed when his car was struck by a police car traveling at 86 mph without emergency lights and siren activated. Officer Christopher Bolling received probation and had to surrender his Texas peace officer license.
▪ In 2011, the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission and the city of Fort Worth paid settlements to two patrons of a gay bar in Fort Worth who were injured during several public-intoxication arrests by TABC agents and Fort Worth police officers. The state paid amounts of $210,000 and $15,000 to the two men. Fort Worth paid $400,000 and $40,000.
Source: Star-Telegram archives