The family of a 3-year-old killed in a northern Missouri house fire remains 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.
Grandmother Lori Miller said she witnessed two officers use their stun guns a total of three times, twice after Ryan Miller had been handcuffed. The final time, he was in the 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."
Emily Miller called the police response directed at her brother-in-law "heartless."
City Administrator Bob 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 later released from the city jail 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.
The city administrator, who has served as a police officer and firefighter as well as a police chief in suburban St. Louis, called the police response a "judgment call." Jenne 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 for eight months.