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The tragic ordeal began during the early morning hours on November 1, when Ryan and Cathy Miller awoke to the smell of smoke. The house was already ablaze and they were quickly overwhelmed by smoke. The closest exit was via a back door, but 3-year-old Riley Miller was still inside in another part of the house, according to KHQA-TV. Ryan Miller went out the door and then immediately circled around the house to go in through the front door in order to get around the fire and reach his step-son.
Cathy frantically placed a 911 call to get help, and first-responders soon arrived on the scene. Since the front door was locked, he was still attempting to push his way through when the police officers who also responded to the call ran toward the door and reportedly restrained him. The frantic parent was tased three times while trying to reach the dying child.
The two Missouri police officers who tased Ryan Miller have been identified as Patrolman William Harrison and Sgt. Jeffrey Salois. Both law enforcement officers are still working their department shifts and have not been disciplined over the Miller house fire incident. The city manager stated that a lawsuit had not been served over the incident yet, but that he suspects one is coming.
State Fire Marshal Investigator Scott Stoneberger said a firefighter in full turnout gear tried to get inside the home but the flames were too hot. When the firefighters brought the blaze under control from the outside of the structure, Riley Miller was found on the floor at the entrance to his bedroom.
During an interview with the Louisiana Press Journal Ryan Miller stated that he was “hysterical” when trying to get into the home and was thwarted by the police officers and that all he wanted to do was save his son. The grieving parent also said that Riley was still breathing when he was carried outside of the home.
“He was my best friend,” Ryan Miller said. “He was everybody’s best friend. If you would have met him, you would have loved him. He was the joy of my life.”
Said Lori Miller, the child’s grandmother, “He tried to get back in the house to get the baby. They took my son to jail because he tried to save his son.”
Riley Miller was pronounced dead at Pike County Memorial Hospital. Both Cathy and Ryan Miller were treated and released from the Memorial Medical Center Burn Unit in nearby Springfield, Illinois, later the same night. Ryan sustained burns to his chest and Cathy suffered from a burn to the cornea of one of her eyes.
Emily Miller, an aunt to the toddler, said:
It’s just heartless. How could they be so 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?
The Missouri State Fire Marshal is still investigating the fire at the Miller home. Louisiana, Missouri, firefighters fought the Miller fire for about eight hours.
City administrator Bob Jenne said:
It’s just one of those tragic incidents. But you can expect a dad to act like that. I would have done the same thing. I have two sons of my own.