People in Louisiana, Missouri are angry today about the treatment of a step father, Ryan Miller, who was shot with a taser by police officers to prevent him from trying to save his three-year-old stepson, Riley Miller (on the right in the picture), from a raging fire. The fire department refused to enter the building as too dangerous but Ryan Miller wanted to try. He never got his chance. He was shot by two officers with three tasters and handcuffed. He was then taken to jail, though no charges were filed. Riley Miller burned to death.
We have seen similarly questionable use of force in other cases.
The fire appears to have started in a recreation room at the rear of the house while the parents were sleeping in front of the television. When the fire alarm went off, they ran outside and Ryan Miller ran to the front door and was kicking it open when police arrived and stunned him.
While he could sue for excessive force and false arrest, it would be difficult to prevail given his alleged failure to comply with the police order and the motivation of the police to protect him. This generally falls in the realm of a discretionary act subject to qualified immunity.
I understand the reason that the police took this step. However, I think that an adult family member, particularly a father, should be allowed to try. It is certainly true that two lives could have been lost but I think that there is something fundamental in the right to be able to try to a child if it does not endanger another. While the bravery of firefighters is well-known, many people would be haunted by not knowing whether they could have saved their child. Parents are willing to assume the greatest level of risk to protect their children. In most cases, I believe they have a right to try.
Of course, the fire fighters could argue that they would then have to try to save the father but they had already decided that the house was too dangerous to enter. Moreover, family members are often blinded to the risk or the impossibility of such a rescue. In the very least, while the police could try to restrain the father, shooting him with tasers seems excessive.
What do you think?
Source: Daily Mail