Hundreds packed a church in South Arlington Saturday to celebrate the life of Christian Taylor.
The 19-year-old was shot and killed by an Arlington police officer after breaking into a car dealership, damaging at least one vehicle and driving his SUV through the showroom glass.
Officer Brad Miller, 39, was fired this week after an internal investigation determined he did not follow department policies and made “poor decisions” during that encounter with Taylor.
Taylor’s service, which took place Koinonia Christian Church, was described as a homecoming celebration. Pastor Ronnie Goines likened it to a pep rally.
“[Christian] approached things at a high rate of speed, a lot of motivation, and he was a really upbeat individual,” said Goines, who presided over the service. “To have a funeral homegoing service that’s downbeat would have been the antithesis of the type of guy he was.”
Emotions ran high as family, friends, teammates, Arlington Mayor Jeff Williams, and Arlington Police Chief Will Johnson paid their respects to Taylor.
There were tears.
“I saw this boy – I saw my brother grow into a man,” said Adrian Taylor, Christian Taylor’s brother. “And it was just beautiful to see.”
There was also laughter and applause as loved ones shared stories about the energetic, stylish young man.
“This is a celebration, right?” said Joshua Taylor, Christian Taylor’s other brother. “It’s a celebration.”
And his football coach told the congregation, it was exactly what everybody needed.
"This is a tough day," said Will Wagner, head football coach at Angelo State University. "But this has made it a lot better."
Taylor’s brothers said the outpouring of love and support their family has received from all corners of the country has helped them.
"It’s crazy to see how many lives my brother touched," said Joshua Taylor. "Everybody couldn’t even make it today – and to look as far back as I’m looking right now is amazing."
Goines hopes the service gave them and the Arlington community some closure, but also hopes it inspired everyone to continue the dialogue about policing in the city.
"It’s an open dialogue," said Goines. “And I think that’s one of the good things about our particular city. We have an open dialogue with our police department.”
At one point during the service, Joshua Taylor addressed the surveillance video showing his brother breaking into the car dealership the night he died. He told the crowd that’s not the Christian Taylor he knew.