It was last week when The Insite first reported how Harris County Sheriff’s officials denied knowing anything about a .27 blood alcohol level for a deputy killed in a February crash. Several days later the department acknowledged the information was true after The Insite was told there was no information or confirmation on the detailed data I had provided. It was information coming from reliable sources in their department. Today, under the intense scrutiny of the news media – Harris County released a time line of what they knew and when they knew it. The department still maintains no one was aware of the deputy’s blood level until Thursday even though some rank and file deputies in the department knew as early as Tuesday. The department is also attempting to explain why Sheriff Tommy Thomas was a no show or unavailable at the time of the press release. Here is the information and how Harris County explains it:
17 March 2008
Deputy Craig Miller
Killed in traffic accident on February 21, 2008
In order to collectively address on-going requests for information from various sources regarding the circumstances surrounding the tragic accident resulting in the death of Deputy Craig Miller, the following public information is being provided by our Public Information Office. Some information herein has previously been released, but is reiterated for the benefit of those who may not have received it.
Information Released Thursday, March 13, 2008:
- On March 13, 2008, the Harris County Sheriff’s Office received notification from the Harris County Medical Examiner’s office that the autopsy report and toxicology report regarding the death of Deputy Craig Miller was complete.
- The autopsy, which was performed on February 22, 2008, and the subsequent toxicology testing performed by the Medical Examiner’s staff, has determined that Deputy Miller’s blood-alcohol content at the time of his death was .27%.
- The cause of Deputy Miller’s death is listed as “blunt craniocervical trauma” and the manner of death is listed as “accident.”
- Shortly before the accident occurred, Deputy Miller, who was off-duty at his residence, was contacted by his supervisor via telephone and instructed to report to a location to assist in an investigation. At no time was the supervisor ever made aware that Deputy Miller was not in condition to report for the assignment.
- The information contained in the autopsy report has been provided to the Harris County District Attorney’s office. Decisions to be made regarding the prosecution of Jose Jesus Vieyra relating to the accident in which Deputy Miller died will be made by the District Attorney’s office.
Information Released Monday, March 17, 2008:
- The supervisor who contacted Deputy Craig Miller via cell phone and dispatched him to a surveillance operation involving a “solicitation of capital murder” investigation, was Sgt. Bruce Carr with the HCSO Investigative Support Unit (ISU). The ISU provides support to on-going investigations by way of performing covert visual and/or electronic surveillance on suspects believed to be engaged in criminal activity.
- According to Sgt. Carr, he communicated with Deputy Craig Miller during the time span of 6:30pm – 6:35pm. As previously noted, Sgt. Carr received no indication, verbally or otherwise, Deputy Miller had been drinking and therefore would not be in condition to accept the assignment. There are no, and never were audio recordings of this communication, however, Sergeant Carr’s cell phone records are being retrieved to determine the exact time and duration of his communication with Deputy Miller the evening of February 21st. Once obtained, this information will supplement the investigative traffic report .
- Deputy Miller’s regularly scheduled duty hours on the date of his death were 8:00am – 4:00pm, and he began over-time duty at approximately 6:45pm, when he went enroute to the assignment given by Sgt. Carr.
- The accident that took Deputy Miller’s life occurred in unincorporated Harris County, and was therefore investigated by the Harris County Sheriff’s Office – Traffic Division as a matter of policy and standard procedure.
- There were no indications regarding the presence of alcohol or intoxication at the scene of the accident.
- A thorough investigation was conducted at the scene of the accident. The speed of Deputy Miller’s vehicle was unable to be estimated by traffic investigators due to the absence of “skid marks”, indicating Deputy Miller likely had not applied his brakes prior to the collision. Witnesses at the scene estimate Deputy Miller’s vehicle may have been traveling 50-60mph.
- As of this date, Monday, March 17, 2008, the accident investigation is not yet complete. The investigators estimate it will likely be concluded within a few days time.
- Deputy Craig Miller was hired by the Harris County Sheriff’s Office as a Detention Officer on 08-03-87, and became a Certified Deputy on 03-22-89. As a Deputy, Craig Miller’s annual evaluations were all above average, most being at the higher end of the spectrum. During his 20 year tenure Deputy Miller received five (5) Letters of Reprimand, the last being in 1996. Letters of Reprimand within the Sheriff’s Office are considered training opportunities and not disciplinary action. Deputy Miller never received any formal disciplinary action during his distinguished career with the Harris County Sheriff’s Office.
- Deputy Miller was assigned to the Investigative Support Unit (ISU) on April 29, 2006.
- Sheriff Tommy Thomas was unavailable for the Press Release on Thursday, March 13, 2008, which was conducted on his behalf by Field Operations, Chief Deputy Danny Billingsley.