Thursday, June 11, 2009

Officer Chrissy Miller Charged with Manslaughter

A Sunset Hills police officer's blood alcohol level was twice Missouri's legal limit hours after the crash she is accused of causing that killed four people, say prosecutors. Chrissy Miller is now charged with four counts of manslaughter and one count of assault. She is under house arrest.

"Obviously there was a problem here with an individual who went way beyond the limit and had incredibly tragic results," says St. Louis County Prosecutor Bob McCulloch. "She'd been drinking with friends at an establishment for several hours before the accident. At the hospital it was determined her blood alcohol was substantially above the recognized limit in the state of Missouri. It was a .16 about three hours later and a .15 about four hours after the accident."

Miller was allegedly going the wrong direction on Dougherty Ferry at 1:45 AM March 21. She crashed into a car carrying five people of Indian descent. Four of them: Anusha Anumolu, 23, of Charleston, IL; Satya Chinta, 25, of Aurora, IL; Anitha Lakshmi, 23, of Charleston, IL.; and Prya Muppvarapu, 22, of Charleston, IL died instantly. The driver Nitesh Adusumilli, 27, had serious injuries but survived.

Miller was arrested at home Tuesday morning, and booked in the St. Louis County jail, but she was released into her family's custody. McCulloch says Miller's head injuries are so severe, she needs to be kept on house arrest with an ankle monitor. She will only be allowed to leave for doctors' appointments. Miller can walk, but was in a wheelchair as she left the jail.

St. Louis's Indian community still mourns, but Telugu Association President Suren Pathuri says there is no anger, "It's a step in the right direction, hopefully justice will prevail," he says. "Our sympathy goes out to the Christine Miller family. It's hard for her and we hope God will give her strength to face this. Hopefully she'll be stronger."

Pathuri says some in the Indian community were worried the charges were taking too long. McCulloch says it was simply because there were no eye witnesses and reconstruction took a while. He says this case isn't treated any differently because a law enforcement officer is involved.

"You certainly might expect more from a police officer, but from a legal standpoint they're not held to a higher or lower standard. They are held to the same standard as everybody else," says McCulloch.

St. Louis County Prosecutor Robert McCulloch explained, "Her arrest was made by Missouri State Trooper Ryan Burckhardt this morning, at her home. She was taken to St. John's Hospital where she was examined and she was listed as fit for confinement, understanding she's still receiving medical attention. That's why we arranged to have her under house arrest with an ankle bracelet on."

Miller is suspended without pay from the Sunset Hills Police Department effective Tuesday.

"Hours after the crash it was determined her blood alcohol was substantially above the recognized limit in the state of Missouri. It was a .16 at about three hours later and a .15 about four hours after the accident, " stated McCulloch.

Her bond is set at $200,000 and the case will be presented to the grand jury in four to six weeks.

Miller is a 12-year veteran of the police department.

After the accident, Miller had surgery and was in critical condition at St. John's.

At the time of the accident, Nothum would not say why authorities suspected Miller had been drinking. Sunset Hills Police Chief William LaGrand added at the time that drinking and driving would be out of character for Miller, a single mother with one son.

Trooper Daniel Martin On Leave While Investigation Continues

An Oklahoma Highway Patrol trooper at the heart of a May 24 confrontation with a Creek Nation paramedic has been placed on administrative leave, authorities said Wednesday.

OHP Capt. Chris West said Trooper Daniel Martin was put on paid administrative leave June 1 while the patrol’s internal affairs investigation into the incident continues.

West emphasized that the leave is not punishment — the trooper is still being paid — but only routine while an investigation is conducted.

However, West was unable to explain why it took the patrol a week to put Martin on administrative leave. He continued working for a week after the confrontation, along U.S. 62 in Paden, seven miles east of Prague.

West said he didn’t know how long Martin would be on leave.

But he did say that a Tulsa World request under the state’s Open Records Act for the video from the trooper’s dashboard camera is being denied. West did not elaborate on the reason for the denial.

Okfuskee County District Attorney Max Cook said last week that the Highway Patrol should release the dashboard-camera video.

Cook said he would not charge either the trooper or the paramedic, Maurice White Jr., in connection with the confrontation.

“Although I do not condone their actions, I do not believe that filing charges at this time would serve the best interests of the public or the interests of justice,” he said last week.

The confrontation occurred as a Creek Nation ambulance was taking a woman to the hospital in Prague. The ambulance was not using

its emergency lights or siren.
Martin was en route along U.S. 62 to aid the Okfuskee County Sheriff’s Office with a stolen-vehicle call and was using his lights and siren, he said in his report.

He said the ambulance didn’t immediately pull over to let him pass. Eventually, the ambulance did let him pass.

Martin said he radioed the ambulance crew that they should be more vigilant.

White acknowledged receiving that transmission and said his driver, Paul Franks, threw up his hands in surprise at the call.

White said the trooper might have mistaken Franks’ response as an obscene finger gesture.

Martin claimed that as the ambulance passed by in Paden, Franks gave him the finger. Franks denies that.

Martin said he gave chase and pulled over the ambulance and approached Franks, telling him he would be cited for failure to yield and asking why he flipped him off.

White got between Franks and Martin, telling Martin that they were on their way to the hospital and that “we can continue this there.”

Martin said that despite repeated requests to White that he back off, the trooper said he tried to arrest White for obstructing an officer.

That’s when the scuffle broke out between the two, with Martin claiming that White grabbed him around the neck and White claiming Martin put him in a choke hold.

Eventually, the ambulance was allowed to go on its way. Martin was not arrested and Franks received a written warning for failure to yield.

Part of the scuffle was captured on a cell-phone camera at the scene by a witness.
Information from the Tulsa World

Deputy Angie Clark Accused of Killing Husband

An off-duty Lee County sheriff's deputy is on paid administrative leave Thursday night after investigators say she fatally shot her estranged husband at their home in Broadway.

Harnett County deputies responded to the home of Michael and Angie Clark at 8 Bee Hive Lane at 10:22 p.m. Wednesday after a report of a shooting there.

Michael Clark, 44, died at the scene, deputies said.
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