More than 1,000 attend funeral for college football player Christian Taylor, shot dead by rookie cop

More than 1,000 people on Saturday attended the funeral of a college football player who was shot and killed by a North Texas police officer answering a burglary call at a car dealership.

The service for Christian Taylor at Koinonia Christian Church in Arlington was attended by his family members, friends and teammates.

The black 19-year-old attended Angelo State University in San Angelo in West Texas, where he was to start his sophomore year on the team. The crowd gave Taylor’s teammates a standing ovation during the funeral.

In a statement the university said: ‘They made the five-hour trip from San Angelo … to support Christian’s family and loved ones and to help work through their grief over the loss of their teammate and friend.’

Arlington Mayor Jeff Williams and Police Chief William Johnson also were at the service.

A neighbor of Taylor’s family who was at the funeral, Billy Gipson, called Taylor ‘a modest kid who had a promising future.’ He said the young man was outgoing, loving and family-oriented.

‘The person you see on TV isn’t the individual I knew,’ Gipson said, referring to video footage that showed Taylor behaving erratically as he wandered around the dealership in Arlington.

Taylor was unarmed when shot August 7 by an Arlington police officer responding to an after-hours burglary call.

Security footage of the dealership lot shows Taylor busting out a car windshield, then driving his vehicle into the showroom. He was shot while inside the business.

Taylor’s high school friend Jordan Smith was quoted by WFAA as saying: ‘I don’t know how y’all took it, but you know… I’m taking it as… what he was trying to do, him leaving us, is to give us the boost to take all of us where he wanted to be.’

Taylor’s high school teammates were filmed by the television station receiving a standing ovation.

The officer, Brad Miller, was fired on Tuesday.

A lawyer for Miller said the officer was in the right and his actions saved lives.

Family and friends said Taylor had started going to church and sharing his faith through text messages shortly before his death.

‘To know that you are resting with our Father is enough for me,’ Taylor’s mother Tina was quoted as saying by the Dallas Morning News in her son’s funeral program.

The Rev. Ronnie Goines, senior pastor at Koinonia Christian Church, said in the last two months of his life ‘the only thing Taylor talked about was helping young people meet Jesus.’

‘He was on fire for the Lord,’ Goines said at the funeral.

Goines also had a jab at the former officer, saying he was quick to draw his gun and fire at the unarmed teenager.

Goines asked those attending the service to pray for the family but also for police officers and firefighters who ‘are willing to lay down their lives’ for others.

Taylor’s high school football coach, Travis Pride, told the Star-Telegram: ‘People want to know what kind of person he was, and he was a great kid. But I also wish Christian wasn’t there at the time of the events. I certainly think that was a choice he made at the time, but does one episode of your life define you? No.’

The Star-Telegram wrote: ‘At the burial, his former teammates huddled and repeated a chant they used to pump themselves up before games. They chanted, “Clap it up!” and ended with “C.J.’s home!”‘

According to the newspaper, Will Wagner, the football coach at Angelo State, presented Taylor’s family with his football jersey.

Taylor’s shooting came two days before the first anniversary of the death of African American Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri.

The unarmed 18-year-old was fatally shot by a white officer and was one in a series of police killings of unarmed black men in U.S. cities including New York, Baltimore, North Charleston, South Carolina and Cincinnati that renewed the debate on race and justice and led to the ‘Black Lives Matter’ movement.

On Tuesday, Arlington Police Chief Will Johnson said Miller made a series of bad decisions in communicating with fellow officers and initially approaching Taylor on his own without a plan for arrest.

Miller, who was undergoing training with the department, fired four rounds at Taylor, who died from gunshot wounds to the neck, chest and abdomen.

Source: The DailyMail

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