Illinois State Police detectives are investigating the apparent suicide of a Caseyville police officer.
Caseyville Mayor Leonard Black confirmed that Scott Miller, 48, died Thursday as a result of a gunshot. He was found around noon in a Caseyville squad car near Interstate 64 and Illinois 157, Black said.
Coroner Rick Stone said Miller died of a gunshot wound in the head.
Tearful Caseyville village employees were sent home early from work, and Caseyville Village Hall closed early on Thursday afternoon, following Miller’s death. The flag at Village Hall was lowered.
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“It’s a real tragedy,” Mayor Black said. “He was an excellent officer. We appointed him interim police chief when (J.D. Roth) took his life.”
Miller was named briefly as the interim chief after longtime Caseyville Police Chief J.D. Roth committed suicide with a gun. Roth was the subject of a federal investigation.
Police Chief Frank Moore confirmed Illinois State Police are investigating.
Miller received a citation for his contribution to the arrest of Darrell Hoffman, who was charged with the fatal hit-and-run of Robert T. Marciniak, Jr. in 2000. Miller identified the body and informed the coroner’s office of a possible driving under the influence accident. Hoffman was charged with felony leaving the scene of an accident with injuries and death and felony reckless homicide charges. Hoffman was sentenced to probation.
In 2005, Miller arrested a former death row inmate who was found at a Caseyville hotel with drugs and a loaded gun. Verneal Jimerson spent 11 years on Illinois death row for the 1978 murder of a Chicago couple. Jimerson was released in 1996 after DNA results cleared him. Jimerson was charged in St. Clair County with unlawful possession of a weapon by a felon and being a felon in possession of a firearm. He was sentenced to probation.
Miller sued Roth and the village in April 2012, alleging Roth made defamatory and false statements about him. Those statements included allegations that Miller leaked information about police department operations, according to the complaint.
A year later, Miller was one of the eight officers who signed a no-confidence petition against Roth and asked the board to remove Roth.
Roth was placed on paid leave in May 2013 after he was charged in state court with official misconduct in connection with the purchase of a 2003 Dodge Dakota Pickup seized in a drug bust. Roth used the truck for personal and police business until police officers pressured the Village Board to auction the truck. The Village Board told Roth to get bids for the truck from local car dealers. The bid process was challenged after officers learned Roth bought the truck from a dealership where his friend worked. The dealership bought the truck from the village for $7,500. Roth bought the truck less than a month later.
Roth was also charged with personal use of luggage purchased with village funds.
Roth shot himself in the head on May 30 in the backyard of his Fairview Heights home.
Documents obtained after Roth’s death revealed there was ongoing Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives Department investigation into the police department that Roth headed for 12 years. Roth operated a home-based business called Special Order Firearms.
Jose Alvarez was named as chief to succeed Roth in September 2013, then was fired by Black on Feb. 12, 2014. Miller then was named as interim chief. The Village Board voted to reinstate Alvarez, but he was later charged with disorderly conduct and battery after he refused to return to his seat during a Village Board meeting and bumped into Moore.
Moore was later named chief.
Chris Guy, a legislative aide for state Rep. Dwight Kay, said he and Kay happened to arrive at Caseyville Village Hall shortly after noon on Thursday, to hold meetings with constituents.
Guy said several village officals and employees were present — obviously distraught.
“Their eyes were red. There were tears in all of their eyes — very choked up,” Guy said. “Several of the employees had just talked with the officer, I guess, just before we walked in.”
Guy said Kay is offering prayers and condolences to the department and the officer’s family.