ST. LOUIS—The family of a 3-year-old killed in a northern Missouri house fire is outraged after police used a stun gun on the boy’s stepfather as he tried to run back in and save the child.
Riley Jeffrey Rieser Miller died early Oct. 31 in the Mississippi River town of Louisiana. A city police officer fired his stun gun at Ryan Miller, 31, as he tried to re-enter his burning home, according to a city official. The house was destroyed.
Lori Miller said she witnessed two officers use their stun guns on her son a total of three times, twice after Ryan Miller had been handcuffed. The final time, he was in a police squad car, she said.
“It was police brutality,” said Miller, adding that she was also threatened with arrest. “We’re still trying to mourn.”
City Administrator Bob Jenne called the police response a “judgment call.” Jenne said Thursday that he is waiting to review a police report from the fire.
Emily Miller said the police response directed at her brother-in-law was “heartless.”
“And while they all just stood around and waited for the fire department, what kind of police officer wouldn’t try and save a three year old burning in a house?” Emily Miller said, according to CBS St. Louis.
Jenne said the fire started in an electrical outlet in the rear recreation room where Riley’s parents fell asleep watching television. By the time they awoke, smoke and flames prevented Ryan and Cathy Miller from reaching their son, whose bedroom was at the front of the house. They fled through the back, with Ryan Miller trying unsuccessfully to re-enter the home before the second attempt that led to his arrest.
Jenne said a firefighter tried save Riley, but the house was too hot to enter.
Miller was taken to the city jail and released without being charged. He and his wife were later treated for minor burns at an Illinois hospital.
Lori Miller said the family is considering legal action against the city. And Jenne said he expects a lawsuit.
Jenne, who has served as a police officer and firefighter as well as a police chief in suburban St. Louis, said Thursday that he is waiting to review a police report from the fire.
Calls to the Louisiana police department were referred back to Jenne. The officer in the incident has not been placed on leave.
“Ultimately, their concern was that he himself might become a casualty of the fire as well,” Jenne said of Ryan Miller.
Lori Miller said her son was preparing to adopt Riley. The family had lived in the rental home, which was within walking distance of the home of Ryan Miller’s parents, for eight months.