ARLINGTON, Texas — Christian Taylor was an honor student from a tight-knit family, a rising sophomore who seemed destined to make the starting lineup this fall for the Angelo State University Rams. Yet he had long shown signs of a roiling heart.

In December, he took to Twitter to condemn racist policing. And a few weeks before he died, friends and family said, a religious awakening left him talking obsessively about social justice and his desire to be a black leader.

“He said MLK, he was a peaceful-type dude, but Malcolm X, he was getting the business done,” his buddy J’von Varra, 20, said, recalling a recent conversation with Taylor at a local park. “He said he felt like sometimes you have to be destructive to get what you want.”

Days later, security cameras captured Taylor, 19, calmly casing an Arlington car dealership, patiently kicking out the windshield of a gray Mustang and deliberately crashing his Jeep SUV into the dealership showroom. He ignored blaring burglar alarms and, when police arrived, allegedly defied orders to surrender, shouting and advancing toward officers even after they fired a first shot.

Late Tuesday, Arlington police sacked officer Brad Miller, the white rookie who shot and killed Taylor, who was black and unarmed. But Taylor’s bewildering behavior just two days before the first anniversary of the notorious police shooting of a black teenager in Ferguson, Missouri, has left grieving friends mystified and wondering if Taylor left home that night to stage some kind of protest.

The proximity to the Ferguson anniversary “kind of scares me,” said Jordan Smith, 19, a neighbor and football buddy who saw Taylor barely an hour before he died. “I don’t know why he had to go then. It ties so close.”

Of the more than 600 people shot and killed by police so far this year, Taylor’s death is one of only a handful in which the officer involved has been fired or charged with a crime. In a news conference late Tuesday, Arlington Police Chief Will Johnson said Miller, 49, a trainee with no previous police experience, had violated department protocol by pursuing Taylor alone into the dealership showroom without backup and without a plan for a peaceful arrest.

Miller’s actions created “an environment of cascading consequences that produced an unrecoverable outcome,” Johnson said, adding that he had “serious concerns as to the rationale articulated for the use of deadly force.” The case against Miller will be presented to a local grand jury.

But Johnson also portrayed Taylor as a suspect bent on physical confrontation.

“This is an extremely difficult and tragic case,” Johnson said. “Our community is hurting, our department is certainly hurting and, quite frankly, our nation is hurting.”

The firing brought little solace to Taylor’s family, who scrambled Wednesday to arrange his funeral.

“We are all human and make mistakes, and there isn’t a winner in this. You know what I mean? We are both losers,” his father, Adrian Taylor, said.

“I don’t know any more information than anybody else in the world,” he said. The person in that video “was not my son.”