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Sergeant in Riverside shooting told he will be fired

Miller was hit by 12 bullets in the fatal shooting  

July 27, 1999
Web posted at: 6:03 p.m. EDT (2203 GMT)

In this story:

Night of shooting

Investigations of alleged racism


RIVERSIDE, California (CNN) -- The Riverside Police Department said Tuesday that the sergeant who supervised four white officers involved in the shooting death of a 19-year-old black woman, Tyisha Miller, has been given a termination notice.

"Police Chief Jerry Carroll did give notice of intent to discipline Sgt. Gregory Preece," said Paul Villanueva, a spokesman for the police department in Riverside, a city about 60 miles east of Los Angeles.

Preece's attorney, Chuck Goldwasser, told CNN, "I have not reviewed the department's notice of intent but, from all I know, I see no misconduct or misjudgment by Sgt. Preece."

Preece is expected to appeal the termination notice, Goldwasser said.

The decision to fire Preece comes two weeks after Carroll fired the four officers involved -- Paul Bugar, 24, Wayne Stewart, 26, Daniel Hotard, 23, and Michael Alagna, 27 -- for violating department policy involving the use of force.

Attorney Bill Hadden, who represents the four officers, is preparing an appeal.

Night of shooting

Miller was killed on December 28 by the officers who responded to a 911 call from Miller's cousin.

When the officers arrived, Miller appeared to be unconscious with a gun on her lap as she sat in her car. Unsuccessful attempts to get her attention led officers to break her car window.

The officers said they opened fire after Miller reached for her gun. They fired 23 bullets, hitting her 12 times, according to the district attorney's report.

Preece, who did not fire his weapon, was criticized for refusing to offer an alternative plan as the officers approached Miller's car, according to Riverside district attorney investigator Randall Christianson.

Christianson criticized the officers' actions but declined to file criminal charges, concluding there was no criminal intent.

Investigations of alleged racism

In a separate, independent investigation into possible civil rights violations, the Riverside Police Department issued a notice to suspend Officer David Hackman for allegedly making racial remarks following the shooting of Miller, according to Villanueva.

Preece is also accused of using racial epithets at the scene of the shooting, according to a wrongful death civil suit filed by the Miller family.

Goldwasser denied those allegations, saying his client made "no racial epithets or derogatory remarks" throughout the Miller incident.

Miller's death sparked national protests by civil rights groups who said the shooting was racially motivated.

The U.S. Attorney's Civil Rights Division and the California attorney general are investigating allegations of widespread racism in the Riverside Police Department.

The Justice Department said it would try to determine whether Riverside police have "engaged in a pattern or practice of law enforcement misconduct" in the way they provide services. That includes determining if racial slurs have been used.

Police shooting of black California woman gets new probe
July 9, 1999
Officers to be fired in Tyisha Miller shooting case
June 12, 1999
Police, civil rights leaders sit down to build bridges
June 8, 1999
Civil rights suit in California police shooting
May 19, 1999

Riverside Police Deptartment
U.S. Department of Justice
  • Civil Rights Division
California Dept. of Justice - Office of the Attorney General
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