Lucky Miller is the police chief in Mannford, Oklahoma who was murdered, authorities say, by an officer under his command, while they were in Florida to attend a law enforcement conference in Florida no less. He was remembered as a chief who still enjoyed doing routine police work, and who was devoted to his three kids and wife.
The accused officer is Michael Patrick Nealey, 49, who is being held in Florida on a homicide charge, according to jail records. Deputies responded around 9:50 p.m. to the Hilton on Pensacola Beach on Sunday night, November 10, 2019 to a call for a physical altercation, and they found Miller dead, according to WEAR-TV. The cause of death has not been released. The motive hasn’t either, as the men were described as close friends.
Carterson Public Safety Group, Inc. wrote in a press release, “We are saddened by the news of the incident that occurred the night prior to the start of our conference. We would like to extend our condolences to the families and agency of those involved.”
“We are heartbroken by the news,” Mannford Mayor Tyler Buttram said in a statement. “Please keep both families in your prayers as we work to move forward.” To Tulsa World, he expressed great shock. “…two families have been devastated by this horrible tragedy,” he told the news site. “They do not understand what’s going on. None of this makes sense. Not one single person can fathom the thought of any of this. It’s so confusing.”
According to WEAR-TV, authorities allege that Miller was lying on the ground, pulseless and not responsive when they arrived, and Nealey was also lying on the ground “mumbling.” Miller’s face was battered, with an eye swollen, and Nealey’s hand was swollen and red, according to WEAR.
The television station reports that a maintenance worker had previously responded to a noise complaint at the hotel room, heard someone “grunting,” and allegedly found Nealey sitting on Miller. When the worker pulled Nealy off Miller, Nealey’s face struck the ground.
Furthermore, WEAR-TV reported, people in the hotel said they heard a “roaring” sound in the room and someone yell, “stop it, Mike,” as well as laughing and yelling.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Miller Was Mannford’s Police Chief Since 2007
The City of Mannford, Oklahoma released a statement confirming Miller’s death. “With sadness we report the death of Mannford Police Chief Lucky Miller who died November 10, 2019 in Pensacola, Florida,” the press release says.
“Details of the incident are not fully known at this time. Miller, 44, has been Mannford Police Chief since 2007.” However, Tulsa World described the death as resulting from “an alcohol-fueled brawl in a Florida Panhandle hotel room.”
Mannford Town Administrator Gerald Haury has named officer Jerry Ridley as interim police chief, according to the news release. On its website, the town’s history says Mannford “was named after T. E. Mann, the owner of the land where the Cimarron River could be safely crossed. The crossing was known as Mann’s Ford. Mannford had a school, grocery store and drug store, but when the train station was built in 1903, the town began to grow at a faster rate.”
Today Mannford is a small town with just over 3,000 people. It’s located only 25 minutes from Tulsa, Oklahoma, though.
The page adds, “The Mannford Police Department is committed to keeping the residents of Mannford safe and secure. Although Mannford is only minutes from Tulsa, residents enjoy a low crime rate and the comfort of small town living.”
2. Miller, Who Was Described as a ‘Natural Leader,’ Was the Married Father of Three Children
According to the Mannford press release, Lucky Miller was “survived by his wife, Amber, and three children.”
Miller’s wife plastered her Facebook page with pictures of herself with Miller and their three kids. “Great picture. Great family. ?” read a typical comment on a photo of Amber’s family.
Ridley, the new police chief, described Miller to Tulsa World as a family man who loved day-to-day police work and was a “natural leader.” He was known for his work on drug cases and was from Stroud.
“He just liked getting his hands dirty. That’s what made him happy,” Ridley said to the news site. “He hated being stuck in his office.
Miller had two sons and a daughter, according to Facebook posts.
Escambia County Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Amber Southard told Tulsa World that Miller’s death likely came from injuries incurred “in a physical altercation with Nealey” and hotel security had been called because the men were “being disruptive” and fighting earlier in the evening. She described it as “an actual physical altercation,” to Tulsa World.
There was no weapon at the scene, and alcohol was involved, Southard told Tulsa World.
3. People Remembered Miller as a ‘Good Man’ Who Was ‘Always There When You Needed Him’
People offered tributes to Lucky Miller on Facebook. “He was a good man. Always there if you needed him. Prayers for his family. So, so sad,” wrote one.
“If you go to Mannford anyone would tell you what a great man and Officer he was. He did a lot for our town. You can go to the In and Out store and anyone there will tell talk to you,” wrote another.
“Worked with him and he was a good officer. We lost a good one. God speed brother until we meet again,” a man wrote on Facebook.
4. The Mayor Described Nealey & Miller as ‘Literally Best Friends’
What’s baffling people who knew both men: They were close friends.
“They were literal best friends, where you saw one you saw the other, that’s why it’s hard for everyone because it just doesn’t make since,” Mannford Mayor Tyler Buttram told writer Dane Hawkins.
Buttram told Tulsa World a similar story: “Lucky was a great man, but I’ll be honest, so was Officer Nealey. Those two were the best of friends. Where one was, the other one was. They were always together.”
According to Escambia County, Florida jail records, Michael Patrick Nealey, 49, was booked into the jail on November 11, 2019 at 7:18 a.m. and is being held on a homicide charge. Nealey is a Mannford detective, according to Tulsa World.
Nealey is being held with no bail. The Escambia County jail exempted his photograph from public records release, but it does show up on a website that allows people to track those held in custody around the country. Online records show Nealey with addresses in Texas until he shows up in Oklahoma in 2000.
5. The Men Were in Florida Attending a Law enforcement Conference on Death Investigations
The men were in Florida to attend the Southeast Public Safety Training Conference, according to WEAR-TV, and they were staying in the same hotel room.
“We were told they came here together and were in town for a conference,” Escambia County Sheriff’s Department spokeswoman Melony Peterson told Pensacola News Journal. “But we don’t know yet which conference they were going to. We’re still figuring that out.”
Tulsa World reported that the men were in Florida to get training on how to tell the difference between homicides, suicides, and natural deaths.