Missouri Police Repeatedly Shoot Man With Tasers And Arrest Him To Prevent Him From Rescuing His Three-Year-Old Son From Fire

article-2491452-19429BE500000578-935_634x708People 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.

article-2491452-19429BFE00000578-170_306x423I 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

40 thoughts on “Missouri Police Repeatedly Shoot Man With Tasers And Arrest Him To Prevent Him From Rescuing His Three-Year-Old Son From Fire”

  1. 1. I own my body. That is the first of all natural rights. I am free. That is the second. I am, therefore, responsible for myself, my thoughts, and my actions, which I may exercise free of any limitation except as limited by the need to maintain a secure and ordered society. Preventing a father’s suicide mission into a burning residence to recover, at most, the lifeless body of his child is not necessary in order to maintain such a society and therefore should be permitted.

    2. I know the deep love of my wife for her children. They are also mine. And I know my deep love for my wife. And I know the torture of the rest of my days if in her eyes I saw her troubled soul asking why I did not try. I would have gone into that house just to make certain she need ever ask that question. That Mr. Miller would risk his life to save his wife’s child declares his great love for both, and I hope in that love she finds solace.

    I understand the sanctity of life, and I understand the nature of freedom – but to deny a sacrificial declaration of love is to deny both.

  2. The report I read claimed the father was tazed three times including once in hand cuffs and once in the police care (while presumably still in hand cuffs.

    If that report were confirmed then I see at least two issues: duty of LE to protect vs a father’s right to act, and what constitutes reasonable force to subdue someone in custody.

  3. I wonder if the firefighters were aware of the child inside. Similar cases discuss firefighters deciding it was not worth the risk if it is just property or a pet. Then the specter arises if the father was successful.

  4. I Agree with iKeith. I am wondering if he typed his comment on an iPad. The ALL CAPS are difficult to wander through. But I agree.
    The cops were totally wrong. It is a dad’s duty to save his child. All risks are on. They send the wrong message to the community of Louisiana, MO and the world.
    His legal suit is unique. He should claim that they prevented him for saving his son, that he could have done so. Loss of life of child is part of damages.

  5. Uh oh. There is not enough info from this article to come to any logical conclusion. For example, how was the fire started? Who else made it out of the fire alive? I don’t know about you, but I will not be leaving a burning house, knowing that my children (or step-children) are still inside? Where was the wife or mom? Where was the dad? Inside or outside the home when the fire started? Too many questions that this article doesn’t address.

  6. As I said, no good choices. Protocol for police and firefighters is to stop people, even parents, from going into a building. It’s a good protocol. It can be a VERY tough protocol. Should parents be exempt from the protocol, that would be a worthwhile discussion. If I were that man, would I be rushing in w/ every ounce of energy, absolutely. I see another child in the photo, that kid needs a father too. His mother needs a husband. No good choices.

  7. P Smith,
    Your anti-police and anti-authority rants really push the limits of what even this free speech oriented blog is willing to tolerate. You have been cautioned before. Suggest you dial it back. Surely your vocabulary is such that you can express an opinion without resorting to gratuitous ad hominem attacks. You may not realize it, but by writing as you do in the above comment, you simply come across as both ignorant and hateful rather than contributing anything meaningful to the dialogue.

  8. I don’t think anyone is saying his was not a natural response, because it is. And having buried both a son and a teenage grandson, I know about loss first hand. However, compounding one loss by the certain death of another is not doing the family any favors, despite the emotion of the moment. This man’s family is going to need him worse than ever after this.

    As for the 9-11 comparison, keep in mind neither the WTC or Pentagon were fully involved in flames, nor were they fully enveloped in toxic smoke. There was still breathable air inside.

    From a pure liability angle, and looking at this through the eyes of blind justice, I can see the family filing a wrongful death or negligence lawsuit had the officers not done everything humanly possible to keep him from entering a building fully engulfed in flames and dying for his efforts.

  9. Here’s something no one seems to be asking:

    If the pi…uh, “cops” didn’t want the father risking his life, why didn’t those trigger happy thugs enter the building themselves and rescue the kid? Aren’t they supposedly willing to risk their lives to protect others, or is that just a myth told to placate the public and keep them paying taxes?

    If one of them had gotten off his fat-as-a-doughnut-from-eating-doughnuts behind and tried to rescue the kid, or if firefighters were there, the father would not have tried to enter the building. He went in because everyone around him was sitting around doing nothing. That’s when the blue filth violently assaulted him.

    The issue is much about the gutlessness of pi…uh, “law enforcement” as it is about their willingness to commit violence against innocent people. The swine will at most get a slap on the wrist, never mind be fired or face charges. If you think they exist “to protect and serve” the public, you’re sorely mistaken.


    I bet those idiots would taser and handcuff someone for trying to rescue a drownlng child (and let the kid drown) because the person attempting the rescue wasn’t a lifeguard or coast guard. Or maybe the idiots in Missouri decided this was a chance to see first hand how Christopher Dorner died. I wouldn’t put it past them.

  10. This is difficult. I don’t think any reasonable person would deny any family member, particularly a parent, the right to attempt a rescue. But the public servants (fire and police) have the appropriate duty to protect and seemed to have acted responsibly.

    Firefighters are the ‘experts’ in firefighting and fire safety, but arguably the father’s intimate knowledge of the household would give him at least equal knowledge thereby trumping the duty of care expected of the public servants.

  11. I guess the cops have a crystal ball to determine the outcome of life and death situations. They can decide to go into a car on the highway totally engulfed in flames to try to save the occupants (this has been seen often on TV news programs) yet they somehow know this father would not successful in his attempt to save his step-son. Some cops are real jerks.

  12. Mespo,

    If this were the law of the land…. We’d have no hero’s In New York on September 11….. I think it’s only a natural response….

  13. nick:

    “f the house was fully involved it’s the duty of firefighters and cops to keep someone else from dying on a suicide mission.”


    Why? Suicide is not illegal. Neither is self-sacrifice in furtherance of your own or society’s principles. I thought we had a country built on the latter.

  14. A father has had the natural right since the dawn of time to protect and save his child. No cop can get in the way of that altruism regardless of the reason. To deny him that is to deny his humanity.

  15. Agree with Nick on this. In the photo we can see he is a very large and powerfully built man. Pumped on adrenaline and emotion, he would have been next to impossible to control and restrain. Based on what little is known at this time, it is almost certain the child was already dead. Forensic pathology literature says autopsies show almost all deaths in burning buildings are not from the fire, but from smoke inhalation.

    I have had to help restrain a would-be rescuer before. I had almost rather wrestle an angry bear. My first take on the situation is they did the right thing by using the Taser. Pepper spray would have contaminated everyone and everything, potentially rendering some of the firefighters and other first responders useless. Also, we don’t know if their pepper spray propellant is flammable or not. Continuing to grapple with him risked two things. He enters the house, is overcome by smoke and dies also. Second, he could have hurt somebody fighting with them as they tried to restrain him.

    I hate to see Monday morning quarterbacking on cases like this. Every time a Code Three call comes in, all first responders think in the back of their mind, “Please, God. Don’t let it be kids.”

  16. I am aghast…. I agree with the professor on all accounts…. Unless you’ve lost a child you’ll have no real understanding….


  18. Just horrible. My prayers for the family. This is another post where I wish Darren Smith was here. As gut wrenching as it is, if the house was fully involved it’s the duty of firefighters and cops to keep someone else from dying on a suicide mission. Dad is a big man, I’m sure restraining him w/ adrenaline flowing would have been extremely difficult. No good choices.

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