An Oklahoma police detective is charged with the murder of his police chief, shocking their close-knit community where people described the two as "the best of friends."
Chief Lucky Miller, 44, and Det. Michael Nealey, 49 were attending a law enforcement conference in Florida, away from their community of Mannford, Oklahoma — a town of about 3,200, approximately 20 miles west of Tulsa. They were staying at the same hotel in the Florida Panhandle when they allegedly began fighting Sunday night, an Escambia County Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman told Tulsa World.
The "physical" fight resulted in hotel security being called as the pair was "disruptive;" the hotel eventually had to call the police. When authorities arrived, they found Miller dead, but no murder weapon, according to The Associated Press.
An autopsy will be conducted and an investigation into the exact circumstances of Miller's death remains ongoing, the outlet reports.
Florida officials booked Nealey on Monday, November 11, alleging Nealey killed Miller during the alcohol-fueled fight.
Officials from the two officers' home town were stunned by the news.
“If this tragedy would have happened serving a police warrant or pulling somebody over … that’s the kind of stuff you can wrap your head around,” Mannford mayor Tyler Buttram told The Washington Post. “But when two friends go to training class together, you just don’t expect something like this to happen. It just doesn’t make sense. Not two best friends.”
Miller had led the department since 2007 and Nealey had joined the department in 2015, Buttram said, emphasizing, “They were the best of friends, both on the force and off."
The community's interim police chief Jerry Ridley expressed similar disbelief.
“I can’t understand it. Lucky was a friend, a mentor, a leader, a police officer and a family man," Ridley told the Tulsa World. "He loved his family to death. He liked to go take his kids and go ride dirt bikes. He had two boys and a girl. She could ride a dirt bike better than all of the others."
Ridley said Miller and Nealey were in Florida for special training in distinguishing between homicides, suicides, and natural deaths in death scene investigations.
Ridley recalled that Miller was a go-it-alone police officer, one who would shrug off concerns of danger.
“He was notorious for making traffic stops and not calling it in. He would use a code called 10-15, which means you’ve arrested someone, and you didn’t even know he was out on a stop. I’ve got on him more than once — here you are getting on the chief of police — but the world we live in today, it’s a dangerous world. He just laughed at me and told me, ‘Oh, you’re just getting old,'" Ridley told the Tulsa World.
Miller is survived by his wife and three children.
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