Accused cop killer involuntarily committed six weeks before shooting
'We could have avoided the entire situation,' mental health expert tells News 6
KISSIMMEE, Fla. – Everett Miller had been involuntarily committed to a mental health facility six weeks before allegedly killing two Kissimmee police officers.
Two mental health professionals believe the two Kissimmee officers, killed last week in an alleged ambush, would be with their families today if their accused killer, Everett Miller, got more mental help after he was involuntarily committed last month.
"We could have avoided the entire situation," said Eduardo Diaz, a counselor at House of Freedom, which is a drug rehab and mental health treatment facility.
House of Freedom also sits on Old Dixie Highway, where Diaz said about a dozen people were outside in the backyard of the facility last month when they saw Miller walking down the street in his underwear and waving a gun.
"He waved, like that, towards us, twice, while he was walking back there," said Orlando Vargez, another counselor. "You can tell the guy wasn't in his senses."
An incident report from the Osceola County Sheriff's Office shows nearly 40 officers responded to the July 11 incident, and Miller was then involuntarily committed under the Baker Act.
Then, just three days later, workers at Freedom House say authorities told them Miller had been released.
Exactly five weeks later, last Friday, police say Miller ambushed 27-year-old Kissimmee police Officer Matthew Baxter and 36-year-old Sgt. Richard "Sam" Howard.
"It is heartbreaking. It is a tragedy. Those people men were men of honor," Diaz said.
People who are committed in Florida are typically examined by a state mental health facility, a process that could last up to 72 hours. But if a person is deemed stable and if there is no petition to keep them, that person can be released. News 6 could not determine why Miller was released –and is still waiting to hear back from the Department of Family and Children's Services, which oversees those who are committed. We also asked if anyone had checked on Miller after he was released.
But counselors at Freedom House believe Baxter's and Howard's lives could have been saved if Miller got the help he needed.
"He needed mental health assistance," Diaz said.
"Sometimes the hospital knows the person needs more assistance, but they do not have the resources to give that person more assistance," Vargez said.
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