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Officer Russell M. Miller, Sr.
Officer Russell M. Miller Sr., a 12-year veteran of the Chino Police Department, became the department’s first officer to die in the line of duty Tuesday, Feb. 1, when a drunk driver struck him as he stopped another motorist for a traffic violation.
Miller, the father of three, died of internal injuries he sustained when he was hit during the early morning traffic stop.
He had stopped a pickup truck for a minor traffic offense and was walking toward the vehicle when a 1999 Chevy Suburban, driven by 21–year old Joseph John Martinez, came up from behind, smashing into his patrol car and striking Miller, tossing him into the bed of the stopped pickup.
Martinez did not stop after hitting Miller, but was arrested less than 15 minutes after the accident, when he slammed into a light pole and signpost, knocking a wheel off his pickup. Residents from the area, awakened by the commotion caused by the accident, detained him when he tried to drive away on the axle. He was later found to have a blood-alcohol level of 0.17, more than twice the legal limit for drivers in California.
The San Bernardino County Attorney’s Office filed second –degree murder charges against Martinez. In addition, charges of gross vehicular manslaughter and felony hit and run were also filed. Martinez was held to answer all charges and was sentenced to 12 years in prison of which he served 8 years.
BIOGRAPHY | Russell M. Miller
Born in Lakefield, Minnesota, in 1948, Russell M. Miller Sr. began his life’s journey on December 27, a life’s journey that would take him from Fort Pier, South Dakota all the way to Corona, California. As a youth growing up in Hawthorne, Russ was accidentally shot in a hunting accident at the age of 17 and had received his last rights after almost dying. He would subsequently graduate from Magnolia High School in June of 1967 and went on to serve his country in the Vietnam conflict for six years in the Navy where he achieved the rank of 2nd Class Petty Officer. When the war ended, Russ took employment as a truck driver, did a stint as a welder and spent time working for an outdoor advertising firm installing signs.
Russ met and married Stephanie Green in April of 1978. To that union three children were born; Melissa, in 1979, Sarah, in 1980; and namesake Russell Jr., in 1984. Their family complete, Russ began to search out other options for his life’s work. At 38 years of age, Russ was reading the newspaper and saw that Chino PD was hiring. A deep-felt desire to serve others caused him to look into the law enforcement career and on February 5, 1988, he graduated from Class 90 of the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Academy. With diploma in hand, Russ was hired to serve the citizens of Chino in the Chino Police Department. He belonged to the department’s Mounted Enforcement Team and served as Field Training Officer, endeavoring to teach others proper field protocol.
Russ was a devout Minnesota Vikings fan. His life’s hobbies included raising birds, playing golf and serving as a Little League coach for his son’s baseball leagues in the Corona Parks and Recreation Department. He was know for his big heart and loved his wife and family very much. He wanted to make his mark on the world and Russell M. Miller Sr. did just that, ending his watch on February 1, 2000. He will be missed by his family, esteemed colleagues, officers throughout the State of California and his many friends.
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