A Denton County grand jury has decided to take no action against a University of North Texas police officer who fatally shot an armed student in December.
Grand jurors received the evidence from Texas Rangers last week and chose not to act on the case involving UNT police Cpl. Stephen Bean, who shot and killed UNT student Ryan McMillan, 21, of Fort Worth on Dec. 13.
A family attorney for McMillan has said that he was intoxicated and committed vandalism in December but that the campus police officer did not have to kill him.
“This presents more questions than it does answers to what happened,” attorney Renee Higginbotham-Brooks of Fort Worth said in a statement Thursday. “With the secrecy surrounding the investigation of this incident, we are not surprised by the Grand Jury’s actions. We are not comfortable with the lack of information about the UNT officer and this incident.”
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Higginbotham-Brooks said the McMillan family still does not know what weapon the officer used or his background and training.
This presents more questions than it does answers to what happened.
Renee Higginbotham-Brooks, attorney for the McMillan family
Officials at UNT offered their condolences to the McMillan family Thursday.
“This was a tragic event that has deeply saddened our university community,” UNT spokeswoman Margarita Venegas said in an email. “The university believes Cpl. Bean’s actions were justified in this situation and that is affirmed by the Denton County grand jury’s decision not to take action.”
Bean remains on administrative duty and is expected to return to regular duty soon, Venegas said.
A police video shows McMillan walking toward the officer with an ax on the morning of Dec. 13 near West Oak and Fry streets near the campus in Denton.
Police went there in response to criminal mischief reports. McMillan was accused of smashing at least 10 cars with the ax before Bean arrived.
In the video, Bean shouts six times for McMillan to “back away,” while McMillan walks toward him saying, “Shoot me.” The officer backs up while directing the student to back away.
Video captures the sound of at least three gunshots after McMillan starts to shout, “Shoot me!” for the last time. Authorities released 47 seconds of the video.
The Fort Worth man died of multiple gunshots in his chest and abdomen, according to the Tarrant County medical examiner’s office.
The UNT officer who shot McMillan remains on administrative duty and is expected to return to regular duty soon.
Higginbotham-Brooks has said that McMillan, who had been celebrating his 21st birthday, had a hatchet in his hand but that his hands were by his side. The attorney said witnesses have stated that McMillan never attacked the officer.
Family members also have not been told whether the officer had a Taser or chemical sprays, Higginbotham-Brooks said at a news conference last month.
"In the case of Ryan McMillan, no Tasers, no chemicals and no tolerance were used in this student's killing," the attorney said in the news conference. "The University of North Texas should have provided these tools in the case and they should have been used."