Springfield police investigate ‘concerning’ social media post at Hillcrest High
Springfield police investigate ‘concerning’ social media post at Hillcrest High

Investigation upholds ‘improper procedure’ allegations made against officer prior to his retirement

A screen capture of a video recorded last week by Terry Rucker.

The Springfield Police Department has determined that an officer erred during a November encounter where he apparently tried to take the cellphone away from a citizen who was recording him.

After the citizen, Terry Rucker, posted video online of the encounter, Springfield Police Chief Paul Williams ordered an investigation through the police department’s Internal Affairs Unit.

The investigation found that allegations of “improper procedure” and “conduct unbecoming an officer” were sustained against Officer Harold Millirons, according to documents obtained by the News-Leader.

Internal Affairs did not find that Millirons or another officer on scene used excessive force.

The portion of the video that Rucker posted to social media showed Rucker speaking with an officer outside of a scene on West Elm Street on Nov. 26 when Millirons got out of his vehicle, cursed, and approached Rucker.

Millirons told Rucker there was a death investigation going on and Rucker was being disrespectful. Millirons then apparently tried to take the cellphone away from Rucker as Rucker went to the ground, yelling “what are you guys doing?”

After Rucker went to the ground, Millirons could be heard telling Rucker he thought Rucker was going to assault him. Millirons then touched Rucker’s phone and stopped the Facebook Live video that Rucker was recording.

It’s unclear which actions taken by Millirons — who was also not wearing a face mask during the encounter — constituted “improper procedure” or “conduct unbecoming an officer.”

Chief Williams declined to elaborate on the specifics of the Internal Affairs findings, saying it was a personnel issue. The police department also does not comment on any discipline that officers face following internal investigations.

The city of Springfield confirmed that Millirons’ 20-year employment with the police department ended on Feb. 2. Millirons testified at a hearing days later that he had retired.

The letter detailing the conclusion of the Internal Affairs investigation was dated Feb. 24, three weeks after Millirons retired.

Reached by phone on Friday, Rucker said he was confused by the results of the investigation and he hoped to get more clarity on the police department’s determinations.

Rucker said his video of the November encounter will be played during a virtual event Tuesday at 6 p.m. on the ACLU of Missouri’s Facebook page entitled “Show Me Accountability: What you need to know about recording law enforcement.”

In an interview with the News-Leader in December, Rucker said he is a “cop watcher” who often uses his cellphone to record police officers when he comes upon scenes. He said it’s a way of holding the police accountable and letting them know they are operating in public view.

Some members of the police department evidently have a different view of Rucker’s actions. In the police report from the November incident, Millirons wrote that Rucker is known by law enforcement in the area for being anti-police, making threats to harm officers in the past, being armed and dangerous, and trying to “provoke officers into civil rights violations.”

Rucker pushed back against those allegations, saying he does not try to provoke officers and he has never owned a gun.

Springfield Police Department officers did not have body-worn cameras at the time of the November encounter with Rucker, but officers started wearing cameras in January.

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