The chief of police in Arlington, Texas, requested funding for a body camera pilot program just days before the shooting of Christian Taylor by an Arlington police officer, KXAS, Dallas-Fort Worth, reported Tuesday. Arlington Police Chief Will Johnson requested about $50,000 from the City Council for 50 body cameras to be purchased for police officers.
The 50 cameras would be used during a six-month trial period while the department practices managing the recorded video files and looks into possible privacy concerns. To get cameras for the department's 600 officers, it would cost about $5 million.
Former Arlington Police Officer Brad Miller, who is white, was not wearing a body camera when he fatally shot Taylor, an unarmed black 19-year-old. Miller and another officer were responding to a burglary call at an Arlington auto dealership where Taylor was observed on surveillance footage breaking a windshield and driving his car onto the showroom floor.
The surveillance footage did not show the shooting. Miller, who was still an officer in training at the time, was fired shortly after for using “poor judgment” in the field when he shot Taylor.
Taylor’s death came during a national conversation about police brutality and race relations, with many arguing for implementation of body camera use by police. Taylor was shot just days before the one-year anniversary of the fatal shooting of Michael Brown, an unarmed black teenager, by a white police officer in Ferguson, Missouri.
"Body cameras should be a priority this year," NAACP Arlington President Alisa Simmons told KXAS. "It's something that benefits both the officers and citizens. It's an absolutely necessary cost."
— Global Grind (@GlobalGrind) August 12, 2015
The use of body cameras has played an important role in the discussion on police accountability. In July, University of Cincinnati Police Officer Ray Tensing was charged with murder in the death of Samuel DuBose, a black man Tensing pulled over for having missing front license plates, CNN reported. Tensing was wearing a body camera at the time of the incident.