• Mon. Oct 3rd, 2022

Family of murdered Flossmoor woman question police training

ByJanice K. Merrill

Aug 16, 2022

Family members of Madeline Miller, the 64-year-old woman shot dead by Flossmoor police on July 10, asked at Monday’s village council meeting whether officers had received proper training while the chief of Village police defended the actions of the two officers as justified.

Miller was shot three times, one in the arm and two in the chest, by police responding to a report of a domestic disturbance in the 1400 block of Joyce Drive.

Family members said his funeral took place last Saturday.

“I don’t think they had proper training,” said Lewis Spells, one of Miller’s three brothers. “These cops could have done anything to defuse the situation, but they didn’t.”

“They murdered my sister, and we have to live with that,” he said.

Video from body-worn cameras that officers wore showed Miller holding what appeared to be a large kitchen knife, and the department said she ignored officers’ requests to drop the knife and walked towards them.

On Monday, Flossmoor Police submitted the department’s reports of the shooting to state police, who are conducting an independent investigation, Flossmoor Police Chief Tod Kamleiter said.

“The officers responded in a way they were trained to do,” Kamleiter said, calling it a “difficult but necessary” decision to use force.

The department’s reports were also posted on the village’s website, although some information was redacted, including the names of officers, Kamleiter said. He added that the reports were also provided to Miller’s family.

Protesters at the meeting demanded that the names of the officers be made public.

“Name that cop, name that cop,” chanted several people in the audience of about 60 people.

Moments before public comments following a brief board meeting, Mayor Michelle Nelson asked uniformed police officers in the meeting room to escort those she deemed too disruptive. .

Miller was black, and Spells said “the color of her skin” played a role in the outcome.

“They came to kill and that’s what they did to my sister,” Spells said. “They’re trying to paint a picture that they were the victims and they’re not.”

Police responding on July 10 heard ‘arguing and commotion’ inside the residence and, after announcing their presence, a woman using a walking frame opened the door for officers, police said .

A female family member began shouting “she’s trying to kill me,” and she and the woman in the walker walked away from the officers, police said.

Miller emerged from a corner, clutching a large kitchen knife, and “quickly ran towards the officers with the knife pointed in their direction,” police said.

Officers retreated to an alley and ordered Miller to drop the knife, which she refused to do and continued “to advance towards officers at a rapid pace”, according to police.

One officer fired a single shot, hitting Miller in the arm, and as she continued to advance towards that officer, knife raised, the second officer fired two shots, hitting the woman in the chest, the police said. police.

Officers rendered medical aid and called paramedics. Miller’s death was ruled a homicide by the Cook County Medical Examiner’s Office.

In the report posted on the village’s website, a 911 dispatcher told responding officers that Miller was attacking another woman inside the home with a knife.

The knife was described as a slicing/carving knife with an 8-inch blade, and that Miller held it “in an ice-pick style handle”, in his right hand, with his arm bent at the elbow and the tip of the blade. intended for officers.

In an additional report, a responding Flossmoor Police detective said he was told by a family member that Miller had “psychological issues”.

Jacqueline Spells-Campbell, a sister of Miller, told the meeting that family members were planning Miller’s funeral on what would have been his 65th birthday. She said Miller is one of eight sisters.

“My sister didn’t deserve to die,” Spells-Campbell told the village council. “I’m angry, I’m very angry.”

Her husband, James Campbell, said he believed additional training was needed for officers who might encounter similar situations.

“We need to figure out what’s wrong with the training,” he told the board.

After the meeting, Spells, Miller’s brother, said the family was frustrated Flossmoor Police weren’t more transparent about the officers involved in the shooting.

“They won’t give us their names, they won’t hold them accountable,” he said.

A Chicago pastor, Reverend Eric Leake, urged the village council not to “ignore what these protesters are telling you” and encouraged village officials to appoint a citizen review committee that would independently investigate everything. future use of force. incidents.

“It will be a giant step towards resolution,” he said.

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In a statement read at the meeting and posted on the village’s website, the mayor said ‘what happened on July 10 is a tragedy and our hearts go out to the Miller family and everyone involved’ .

She said she and other village leaders were working with “professionals and community partners” to set up a community forum “in an effort to navigate this national discussion topic.”

Flossmoor canceled its August 2 National Night Out event, although Nelson said at the time that it was unrelated to Miller’s shooting death.

Residents were informed that day that “out of an abundance of caution for the safety and well-being of attendees, the Village has made the difficult decision to cancel” the events scheduled to take place at Parker Junior High.

“Through various surveillance methods, we have been made aware of several conversations that have raised concerns among law enforcement,” a message sent to residents read.

The cancellation came after an Aug. 1 village board meeting that drew a large audience and questions and comments related to Miller’s death.

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