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FBI to probe police shooting of college football player in Texas

A white police officer in training shot to death a black college athlete in Arlington, Texas early Friday morning. The FBI will be investigating the incident, local officials say.

Louis DeLuca/The Dallas Morning News via AP
Friends and family gather at a candlelight vigil for Christian Taylor, held in the parking lot of Koinonia Christian Church in Arlington, Texas, Saturday, Aug. 8, 2015. The FBI has been asked to help investigate the death of Taylor, a Texas college football player, who was fatally shot by an officer during a burglary call at a car dealership, a suburban Dallas police chief said Saturday.

Local authorities have called in the Federal Bureau of Investigation to review the fatal shooting by police of an unarmed college football player during a burglary call at a car dealership in Arlington, Texas.

The shooting reportedly occurred during an altercation that followed police response to a call early Friday morning by the company that manages security cameras at the Classic Buick GMC in Arlington, a Dallas suburb. Surveillance video shows Christian Taylor, a black college student who played for the Angelo State University football team, jumping on cars and running around the dealership before police arrived.

The incident took place two days before the anniversary of the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., an event that has galvanized the “Black Lives Matter” movement and sparked protests – sometimes violent – against the use of police force on the black community. Like others before it, Mr. Taylor’s death has resonated on social media and quickly became part of the public debate, The New York Times noted.

“He was a good kid. I don’t see him stealing no car or nothing like that,” Clyde Fuller, Taylor’s great-uncle, told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.

Police were called into the dealership around 1 a.m. Friday, where they found a Jeep crashed through the showroom’s front window and Taylor “roaming freely” inside, Chief Will Johnson of the Arlington Police Department said, according to the Times.

The officers ordered Mr. Taylor to lie down, and when he fled instead, they chased him. He was found trying to get out of the building through a locked glass door. Chief Johnson said that the two officers struggled with Mr. Taylor and that Officer [Brad] Miller fired four shots.

Mr. Taylor was struck multiple times, Chief Johnson said, and was declared dead on the scene. Investigators later determined that he had no weapon.

Brad Miller, the officer involved in the shooting, has since been placed on administrative leave, according to Fox News. Officer Miller, who joined the Arlington police department in September, is a recent police academy graduate and was a fully licensed officer, but was still completing a 16-week field training program under the supervision of a more senior officer, reports say.

In announcing that the FBI has been called in to investigate the incident, Chief Johnson acknowledged the shooting’s broader implications, the Times reported.

“Our pledge is to provide answers in the most thorough and expeditious manner possible,” he said at a news conference Saturday night, noting that he and his department understand that “this instance has not occurred in isolation, but rather has occurred as our nation is grappling with the problems of social injustice, inequities, racism and police misconduct.”

Americans’ confidence in police is indeed at its lowest since 1993, in the aftermath of the 1991 beating of Rodney King by Los Angeles police officers and the subsequent 1993 trial of those officers, according to a June Gallup poll.

“These [police shooting] incidents have gotten national attention and settled into the public consciousness in a way that has changed the landscape in ways we have not seen before,” Laurie Robinson, a George Mason University criminologist who served as co-chair of the White House Task Force on 21st Century Policing, told The Christian Science Monitor.

“It’s changed the landscape for policing, it’s changed the landscape for criminal justice, and it’s changed the landscape for public officials, who can’t treat this as a crisis to get through, but who have to now grapple with this and pay serious attention to it,” she said.

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