DOJ findings on neck restraints by LMPD officer based on Douglas Miller’s arrest

DOJ findings on neck restraints by LMPD officer based on Douglas Miller’s arrest
Published: Mar. 20, 2023 at 4:57 PM EDT

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - The Justice Department’s 86-page report on Louisville Metro Police Department has several examples of officer misconduct.

Investigators found excessive force, discrimination, and constitutional violations. Douglas Miller was pulled over for speeding in April 2019 on the Watterson.

The officer suspected that Miller might have been driving under the influence and started performing field sobriety tests.

Miller hesitated to take the breathalyzer test. What happened next illustrated why the Justice Department flagged officers using neck restraints.

“Are you going to do this or not,” asked the officer.

“I’ll do what you want me to do,” responded Miller on the side of the freeway.

“It’s your choice,” the officer said.

“I know,” responded Miller.

“I kinda hesitated, and he says, ‘well you’re under arrest,’” Miller said.

“Go ahead and turn around for me,” the officer said.

“No, look, I’ll do your test, I’ll do your test, I’ll take your test,” Miller said.

In the span of 10 seconds, the officer pushed Miller to the ground.

“Get on the ground, roll over right now,” ordered the officer. “11-35 start me a car, roll over on your stomach now.”

The officer used a one-hand choke hold on Miller before rolling him over. That’s when another officer comes to help.

“He punched me right in the face, and just started pounding on me,” Miller said.

“Yes at this point, you’re under arrest and I told you that before, now you got resisting,” the officer said.

The Justice Department report said the LMPD officer pressed his forearm into Miller’s neck for a minute.

A third officer who comes running in presses his knee against Miller’s neck for another minute.

“Please, you’re really hurting me,” Miller pleaded. “Oh God, please, stop, stop.”

“Quit moving,” said the officer.

“I’m not resisting, you’re killing me,” screamed Miller.

Justice Department investigators said none of this was warranted.

“I’m already cuffed, oh please stop this,” Miller said.

Photos were taken after the arrest that showed Miller’s injuries. He had a black eye and bruising from a ruptured artery.

Miller gave a statement to LMPD’s Professional Standards Unit. He also wrote a letter to former LMPD Chief Erika Shields asking for help looking into his complaint.

Miller said the Public Integrity Unit refused to take his statement.

“Look at my leg, there’s no reason for that,” Miller said. “No reason for any of it.”

The Justice Department also said LMPD’s investigation of this incident was deficient.

It said the supervisor mischaracterized the chokehold and missed the knee to Miller’s neck. The supervisor said the officer’s actions followed LMPD policy.

Chief Shields ordered an administrative investigation, but the DOJ said that investigation was deficient too.

The second investigator searched the web for a one-handed chokehold and compared that to the officer’s actions instead of comparing what happened to LMPD’s own standards.

The officer’s conduct was cleared again. Miller has lost faith in LMPD.

“There should be somebody outside LMPD to make that judgment, otherwise nobody is going to have faith in them,” said Miller.

Miller is suing LMPD in federal court.

That case has been on hold while the criminal case against him unfolded.

That ended in early February.

Miller pleaded guilty to speeding.

Charges of resisting arrest, criminal mischief, and operating a car under the influence were dropped.

The officer resigned from LMPD in December 2021.