truck and thrown onto the hood where he drew his service weapon and fired three shots killing Miller. In a news release after the shooting Sheriff Dan Gilley said, "A 3000-pound pickup truck is a weapon when used as it was on Friday afternoon, and the deputy was more than justified, in the face of this attempt on his life and serious injury, to use whatever force necessary to protect himself." (Cleveland Daily Banner, June 30th 2003)
The People News has received copies of sworn and notarized depositions made by three of the four civilian eyewitnesses to the shooting which suggest the truck was not moving when Deputy Harper jumped onto the hood and shot Miller through the windshield. The witnesses contend that Harper had already drawn his service weapon before reaching the truck and jumped on the hood while Deputy McKee was using a disabling spray, described as Mace, through the vehicle's open side window. The statements said that Miller was holding the steering wheel with one hand and seemed to be rubbing his eyes or protecting his face from the spray at the time Harper fired his weapon and that the truck did not start moving until after Harper had stopped shooting and jumped from the hood. One of the witnesses said that Harper didn't appear injured until after investigators and emergency vehicles started to arrive, although Deputy McKee had tripped and knocked his leg on a tire and wheel at the side of the house while pursuing Miller.
Chattanooga attorney John M. Wolfe Jr., hired by Miller's mother Cynthia White to investigate the shooting, had arranged for the eyewitness statements to be recorded three days after Miller died. The three eyewitnesses are members of the same family living on the property where the shooting took place and were outside the house just a few yards away from the scene at the time. Although there are some inconsistencies in their statements, all three gave a similar account and all agree that the truck was not moving when Miller was shot.
A fourth eyewitness, who was visiting the family at the time, had corroborated the BCSO account of events but according to the family members statement, had privately admitted his mistake. It was also suggested that he had told them that his father was in law enforcement, but they were unable to be specific.
Attorney Wolfe, said he has attempted to get answers from the Sheriff's department and the DA's Office but many questions remain unanswered. The result of a TBI investigation requested by Sheriff Gilley and delivered to the DA's Office in October 2003, has still not been released by District Attorney Jerry Estes, and other requested documentation have not been made available to Wolfe by either the District Attorney or the Bradley County Sheriff's Department. Among the documents requested are the medical report relating to Deputy Harper's leg injury, Harper's BCSO officer evaluations and training records prior to the shooting, crime scene photographs, TBI report and DA witness interview tapes.
Wolfe has filed an action in the Bradley County Chancery Court under the freedom of information act to gain access to the information.
Sheriff Gilley, in a letter to Wolfe dated February 18th 2004, offered to meet for a fact finding conference that would also include DA Jerry Estes, with Cleveland Attorney Drew Robinson as moderator. Robinson would be asked to set the ground rules to ensure a fair and orderly examination of the facts in the case. Wolfe said that for the playing field to be level, he would need to be supplied with the information the Sheriff is legally obligated to deliver, before a conference could be arranged.