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Barefoot and dressed in his pajamas, Ryan Miller was ready to dive into the flames engulfing his home to save his 3-year-old stepson, but police in Louisiana, Mo. had other ideas.
Miller and his wife, Cathy, awoke in the early-morning hours of Nov. 1 to a house filled with smoke. They were forced out through a back door, but their son, Riley, was still sleeping in his bedroom inside.
Miller ran around the house and tried to enter through the front door, while Cathy placed a 9-1-1 call.
Police responded to the scene within minutes, but instead of trying to help the couple save their child, one of the officers shot Miller with a stun gun.
But the blast from the Taser failed to subdue the distraught dad, who kept trying to enter the burning building.
So the cop hit him two more times with the stun gun. When Miller dropped to the ground, he was promptly handcuffed and put into the back of a patrol car, according to KHQA-TV.
"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,β the child's grandmother, Lori Miller, told the TV station.
The heat from the flames was reportedly so punishing, the police were forced to standby until firefighters arrived.Β State Fire Marshal Investigator Scott Stoneberger said a firefighter in full gear attempted to enter the home but the flames were too hot.
Ryan Miller's sister-in-law doesn't think the police handled the situation correctly.
"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 3-year-old burning in a house?" said Emily Miller.
Firefighters later discovered the body of Riley Miller near the doorway to a bedroom.
"We've been going through pictures and he's just smiling in every picture. He was just a happy go-lucky kid," said the boy's aunt.
The child's parents were taken to Memorial Medical Center's burn unit in Springfield, Ill. Ryan Miller suffered burns to his chest, and Cathy Miller burned the cornea in one of her eyes. Both were released from the hospital the same day.
The house was destroyed.
The fire marshal said an official cause of the fire has yet to be determined, although it does not appear to be suspicious. The investigation is expected to take several weeks.
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.