How a Bizarre Police Shooting Left a 4-Year-Old Dead

Photo Illustration by Luis G. Rendon/The Daily Bast/Getty Images/Courtesy of Keianna Miller
Photo Illustration by Luis G. Rendon/The Daily Bast/Getty Images/Courtesy of Keianna Miller

The family of a Black 4-year-old boy who was shot dead by police responding to a bloody domestic violence incident are considering taking legal action.

Lawyers representing Keianna Miller, whose son Terrell was killed by Macomb Police two weeks ago, told The Daily Beast she may file a civil lawsuit.

“Police would lead a criminal investigation. The civil would be by a personal injury law firm like ours for a lawsuit that would be filed in civil court,” a spokesperson for personal injury law firm Romanucci & Blandin LLC said.

Macomb Police say they were called out to answer a domestic violence call on the night of March 16 and had to “forcibly” gain entry after observing “blood in a common area of the complex” and “screams for help coming from inside an apartment.”

Inside, they found 36-year-old Miller with multiple stab wounds and a man, later identified as Anthony George, 57, holding a knife and refusing to drop the weapon.

“Evidence shows an officer fired one shot from his firearm and both the subject and the child suffered fatal gunshot injuries,” a Macomb police press release stated.

The Illinois State Police Department, which has taken over the investigation, said that after it had reviewed bodycam footage, witness statements, and evidence, it believes George had used Terrell as a human shield.

Terrell Miller

Terrell Miller.

The Daily Beast/Courtesy of Keianna Miller

It is unclear at this point what Keianna Miller’s relationship was with George.

A funeral service for Terrell was held on March 23, where many supporters, family, and friends paid tribute to the “sweet, loving, happy-go-lucky little boy” with an old soul.

“He was a very special child,” said Verneata Jones, who the family has said was like an honorary grandmother to Terrell. “He was an angel that God sent to us. Everybody that came in contact with Terrell fell in love with him. He always had that Kool-Aid smile.”

“My heart is shattered,” Keianna Miller told the congregation, before referencing Terrell’s beloved Spider-Man. “Can we please throw our webs up one last time for my baby?”

“You gave me the strength that I never could ask for,” she said. “You are my miracle baby, and I’m so honored that you picked me as your mother.”

Keianna Miller and her son, Terrell Miller

Keianna Miller and her son, Terrell Miller.

The Daily Beast/Courtesy of Keianna Miller

In what would become a horrific premonition, Miller told the Illinois Democratic Women’s group at a Black Lives Matter event in 2020 that she feared local police would one day shoot her and her then-infant son.

In a video, Miller explained that she had previous run-ins with the police while experiencing mental health issues and was constantly harassed. When Miller was pregnant in 2019, she said she ran into a Macomb police officer who asked if she was having a boy or girl.

“I can’t wait to arrest your son,” Miller said the officer told her.

She explained how terrified she was for herself and Terrell, who also appeared in the video while sitting in a stroller.

“Before I even had my son, I’ve been having this recurring dream that the police runs into my house and kills me and my son,” Miller cries. “Some days, I wish I was a whole other color to get a better chance at life. ... I don’t want to be here in Macomb. I don’t even want to be here in the state because of how corrupt it is.

“He is only one-years-old, and the police is already threatening to arrest him,” Miller said, motioning towards Terrell. “He hasn’t even had a chance at life yet.”

In an email to The Daily Beast, Illinois police said no further information is being released at the moment “to protect the integrity of the investigation.”

“After a thorough investigation is completed, [Illinois state police] will turn all reports over to the McDonough County State’s Attorney’s Office,” Trooper Melissa Albert-Lopez from the department’s public information office wrote in an email.

According to the Macomb Police Department, the officers who were involved in the incident have been placed on administrative leave pending an investigation. Their names have not been publicly released.

Anger about Terrell’s death erupted online, with many social media users questioning why the little boy was killed and paying tributes for a young life cut tragically short.

“My baby #longliveTerrell,” Keianna Miller posted on Facebook along with a series of photos of Terrell.[0]=AZWTUTMdrXHAHLBcZfPza5euitSMq-jg-KDAR-Sfpk8mn-aCtJ8flalHwLOnblhNXsDdEDfxVuzb5RlvRG6owIeUEIOHlZShxDIU4OkhEszK3loNnwjiJb-2nektCJpUCtl0huveEtoCs2YsVfM-S2MqPejfBF7hWpOFhtfEhceW5w&__tn__=%2CO%2CP-R

Terrell’s father, Dewayne Crenshaw, remembered his son with photos, which were flooded with sympathy notes.

Local organizations also showed support and offered ways to honor Terrell.

“I am writing to propose a meaningful initiative to honor the memory of Terrell Miller within our [Macomb district] school community. Terrell Miller's legacy embodies values of unity, diversity, and inclusivity that are essential for fostering a positive and supportive educational environment,” the WatchMeWork Creations CEO Jamiyah Jackson posted. “The primary objectives of honoring Terrell Miller's memory include promoting unity, celebrating diversity, fostering inclusivity, and instilling a sense of empathy and understanding among our students.”

The Macomb School District helped organize a day to remember Terrell by asking students to wear Spider-Man merch or associated colors of the comic book hero, of which Terrell had been a fan, and neighborhood school districts also joined in the memorial.

“We are wearing Spiderman, red, blue, black, and/or white to honor Terrell Miller of Macomb. We’re keeping all of you in our thoughts,” the Astoria public school district posted on Facebook.

Similarly on March 22, the Wee Care Center hosted the Terrell Miller Day to remember the four-year-old.

The local daycare posted that Terrell’s passing was a timely reminder for parents to treasure every moment with their children.

“A mom in our community has lost her child. We cannot even begin to imagine her pain and sorrow. We should all honor Terrell Miller by spending extra time with our children. This sweet boy ran out of time with his mom. Do all you can to make the most of your time with your children.”

Much of the social media commentary has been critical of how police handled the situation.

“The cops who were supposed to protect and save [Terrell], instead discharged their firearms during the hostage situation with my nephew right in the line of fire,” Terrell’s maternal aunt Nichelle Harlan wrote on Facebook. “It is so very sad and an unfortunate situation that DID NOT have to happen this way. We are heartbroken to think, that if proper protocol was followed, my nephew would still be here with us today.”

Organizations like the Illinois Unite Against the War on Women slammed the City of Macomb for “pulling out all the stops to protect the officer” who allegedly fatally shot Terrell. Meanwhile, the Racial Justice Coalition of Illinois demanded “Accountability for Macomb Police Officer’s [sic] negligent homicide” of the child.

While Terrell’s family mulls legal action, they have vowed to push for police reform and launched a GoFundMe campaign on March 21, requesting $20,000 “to prevent such tragedies from befalling another innocent child” and to “advocate for changes to local, state, and national laws and protocols, to ensure the safety and protection of all individuals, especially children, in similar situations.”

Read more at The Daily Beast.

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