Should tasered stepfather have been allowed to try and rescue son in house fire?


A tragic scene that unfolded in the small town of Louisiana, Missouri last Thursday, which resulted in the death of 3-year-old Riley Jeffrey Miller, has residents and now people across the country asking some very difficult questions.

Ryan and Cathy Miller and their 3-year-old son were sleeping when a fire started in their home. The parents had fallen asleep watching television while young Riley slept in his bedroom.

The smoke woke Ryan and Cathy from their sleep and they were able to exit out of a rear door from the room they were in after being unable to get to their son because of the fire. Once outside, 911 was called and the Millers rushed to the front of the home.

When the police and firefighters arrived the latter determined that the blaze which had already fully engulfed the back of the home was too hot to attempt to enter. Riley’s stepfather, Ryan Miller, had decided to try to rescue his son. While only in his pajamas with no shoes on, he held his shirt over his head and tried kicking in a door.

City Administrator Bob Jenne told KSDK that the authorities felt the fire was too dangerous for what Mr. Miller was attempting so they had no choice but to restrain and then taser him to keep him from entering the inferno. “The fire chief felt that if Mr. Miller would have tried to enter that he too might have wound up being a fatality. This is something we want to look in to and see if it was the right thing to do at that time,” Jenne said.

KHQA spoke with Ryan’s sister-in-law, Emily Miller, who stated:

“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 family also said that officers tasered Mr. Miller 3 times, handcuffed him and placed him in the back of a patrol car.

Ryan Miller’s mother and Riley’s grandmother, Lori Miller, said, “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.”

There has been no official determination of the cause of the fire yet but the fire marshal stated that the fire didn’t appear to be suspicious.

Quick Update:
Ryan Miller has spoken out. “I was hysterical, yes, because I wanted to save my son. He was my best friend. He was everybody’s best friend. If you would have met him, you would have loved him. He was the joy of my life,” he said.

CNN reported on the situation and asked their legal analyst Joey Jackson about whether or not police were in the right. Jackson said:

“From a strictly legal point of view I believe the police did have the grounds to stop him and here’s why. Police are in the business of protecting and serving of course but you don’t want to create a scenario where you have another fatality. As a result of that, what the police are going to say is that they erred on the side of caution and while there’s a moral imperative to protect another life, you don’t want another one lost. That’s where the law will seek to protect them.”


The scenario was then turned around and Jackson was asked if the police would have allowed Mr. Miller to enter and he would have died, could they have been held legally accountable. “If you let someone, the stepfather in this instance, go in and perform a rescue and it went bad, we could be talking about a lawsuit against the police department for doing that.”

For those interested in helping the family, monetary donations may be sent to the Mercantile Bank in Louisiana, c/o Ryan Miller or the Riley Miller fund.

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  • Josie

    So it has nothing to do with what’s right, but what will protect from litigation. I blame are sue happy culture.

  • Josie


  • Phoxee

    OMG! This is bullchit!! They should have let him, it’s his damn decision. That poor baby! This is just sooo sad. =(

  • heyBale

    I dont take lightly the job that law enforcement does, but they have too much power and say so over people’s lives. As if the populace is too moronic to take care of ourselves without their supreme knowledge of daily life.
    A man’s home is his kingdom and if thats what the father wanted to do and risk his life saving his family, no one should get in his way.

    I’d like to see the same situation play out if it was the cop’s home on fire… I know his fellow cops wouldn’t have stopped him cuz its one set of rules for citizens, another set for them. Thats a difficult paradigm to digest that we have to live amongst.

    Moral of the story, human life means less then potential lawsuits. …hope they can sleep well at night taking money from the peons they rule over.

    • whorsieface

      I know.. The audacity of anyone to mention lawsuit. A loss of cash- when a small child is burned to death. I can’t believe that would even enter the officers minds.

      • Kevin Richards

        The fact these sickos are seeking a lawsuit shows they care more about money than their kid.

  • Sam

    “The fire chief felt that if Mr. Miller would have tried to enter that he too might have wound up being a fatality.”
    Well, that a chance I’d be willing to take. I am just so sorry for this family. Prayers sent their way!

  • Guest

    I wouldn’t have left the house without my kid in the first place, ever, under ANY circumstances.

    • Amanda Richard

      I completely agree, I’d never for a moment think… I need to save myself… My first though would be, I need to get my baby

    • frontdoormom

      My thoughts exaclty. I wont pass judgmene on the parents but i do wonder why they didnnt run to save the child despite the fire. Im 5 months pregnant and would jump in front of a car for my 4 yr old son, take a bullet, you name it. He is my first thought to protect regardless of the situation.

    • Kir

      Have all of you read the article?:
      “they were able to exit out of a rear door from the room they were in after being unable to get to their son because of the fire. Once outside, 911 was called and the Millers rushed to the front of the home.”
      They left AFTER finding out that they couldn’t reach their son. Read first, then comment.

      • whorsieface

        Did the article say that they couldn’t get to their son by entering the front of the house? The front door? A window? Being able to get to their son from one room inside the house, verses the outside – two different set of circumstances. If anything, that should have told the police that he was in his right frame of mind and he felt that he could save the child once outside. If he were going to walk through flames to save the child, he would have done that before he left the house. He knew the lay out of the home, and where the child was located.. The police did not.

  • amberc88

    i would rather DIE trying to save my child than to be held outside against my will know my helpless child is in the hosue dying. Honestly if my child died i wouldnt even WANT to be alive. Anyone of those police officers would have done the same if it was their own child in the house. so it sickens me they would stop him from trying to save his own child even if it meant his life.

    • whorsieface


  • Tamtam

    if the police let the man in, the wife would have sued, and probably won. Better to have one death than two.

    • whorsieface

      Or possibly no death? But we will never know now. It’s natural for a parent to risk their own life to save their child. I don’t think anyone has the right to interfere with that. Not only has this couple lost a child, they have to live with the ‘what if’s’ for the rest of their lives. I’d say a huge part of them died that day. Truly sad.. I just can’t believe it. They tasered the guy? Now that is nasty.. just nasty.

  • Sweet Venom

    That’s so sad. I believe people have the right to do as they please so long as no one gets harmed. The police should have just given him a warning, letting him know that they don’t recommend him going back inside, but ultimately the decision should have been up to the step-father. It’s his life, if he wants to risk it for his child who are the police to stop him? ANYONE who has a child would have done the same.

  • spottedgiraffe

    Kind of off topic but why does the sister in law have the same last name as her brother in law?

    • Hmmm

      ….Maybe she’s married to his brother?

  • somanyfools

    omg a little boy has passed away and alot of you’s can only throw blame to the parents and about last names.. all i can say is god doesnt like ugly…

  • Whitney

    I believe the officers weren’t concerned about litigation, but about trying to prevent another fatality. Having worked in the LE field, I’ve seen the way tragedies like this one affect the responding officers. It tears them up inside, especially when the victim was a child. People on the outside looking in may see them as heartless & cold but that’s the furthest from the truth for most of them. Hindsight is 20/20 & it’s foolish to say what you would’ve done if you were in their shoes when you’ve never been in a high risk emergency situation.

  • Kevin Richards

    This family is disgusting, apparently they are trying to sue the cops for the death of this child. If the police had allowed the father to save the child and he died in the process they would sue for that as well. This family never loved Riley. They love money more than their son. If they got the money they are happy now,they would rather have money if they were successful in their lawsuit than their child.