Loud fight with detective preceded chief’s death, witnesses say

The Associated Press - November 13, 2019 4:06 pm

This September 2019 photo from The Associated Press shows Mannford Police Chief Lucky Miller. A small-town Oklahoma policeman was charged Monday, Nov. 11, with killing his chief, Miller, after what authorities described as an alcohol-fueled brawl in a Florida Panhandle hotel room.

The noises coming from room 527 at the Hilton on Pensacola Beach on Sunday night were so loud that the couple staying next door asked to switch rooms, according to an arrest report released to The Associated Press on Tuesday.

A separate guest told investigators he heard a “roaring” sound followed by a voice saying, “stop it Mike” over and over. He said the voice grew quieter each time the phrase was repeated.

By the time the maintenance man arrived to check out the complaint, he found Mannford, Oklahoma, police Det. Michael Patrick Nealey, 49, sitting on top of police Chief Lucky Miller, 44.

Miller was later pronounced dead. Nealey is charged with second-degree homicide and is being held in the Escambia County Jail on a $500,000 bond.

Mannford’s town officials said that Nealey and Miller were close, and went to Florida’s Panhandle to attend a law enforcement conference at the Hilton.

Mayor Tyler Buttram called the two men “the best of friends.”

Nealey and Miller were seen drinking together Sunday evening and witnesses described their behavior as loud, according to the arrest report.

Back in room 527, the noise level ramped up as the evening went on.

A man who had been staying with his wife in the room next door told investigators that they had been disturbed by the sound of laughter coming through the wall for several hours. He went to the front desk to request a room change.

When the maintenance man arrived, he knocked on the door but no one answered. He could hear grunting noises, so he said he opened the door and saw Nealey on top of Miller. The report said the man yelled for Nealey to get up. When he didn’t, the maintenance worker pulled him off, using such force that Nealey’s nose and lip were injured.

When deputies arrived, Nealey was “just mumbling” unintelligible words, according to the arrest report.

Paramedics found Miller unresponsive. His face had been beaten and his right eye was completely swollen, the report said. Neeley’s right hand was swollen and red, the report said. Neely was first taken to a hospital.

Miller had been police chief since 2007. He and his wife had three children.

“We are heartbroken by the news,” Buttram said in a statement, adding that the town was having a difficult time with the tragedy. “Please keep both families in your prayers as we work to move forward.”

Another officer has been appointed as interim police chief.

Mannford is about 20 miles west of Tulsa. It has a population of about 3,200 people.

An attorney for Nealey isn’t listed on court records. His next court appearance is scheduled for Dec. 5.

The public safety training conference was scheduled to begin Monday. A woman answering the phone at the hotel on Tuesday said the conference was underway.


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