Officer Accused of Killing His Police Chief

(AP) — A small-town Oklahoma policeman was charged with killing his chief after what authorities described as an alcohol-fueled brawl in a Florida Panhandle hotel room.

The two men had been staying at the Hilton on Pensacola Beach over the weekend for a law enforcement conference, said Escambia County Sheriff’s spokeswoman Amber Southard.

The late Mannford, Oklahoma Police Chief Lucky Miller. (KTUL-TV via AP)

At some point early Sunday evening, hotel security was called because the two men were being disruptive, Southard said. Later that evening, hotel staff called the sheriff’s department because the men were fighting.

“An actual physical altercation,” she said.

When deputies arrived, they found Chief Lucky Miller dead, she said, but no weapon. Southard said that alcohol was involved and that an autopsy is under way.

A person who answered the phone at a number associated with Miller declined to comment and asked that The Associated Press not call again.

Michael Patrick Nealey, 49, was arrested Monday morning and charged with killing Miller, according to records.

Miller was police chief in Mannford, Oklahoma, a small town about 20 miles west of Tulsa. It has a population of about 3,200.

Nealey was being held without bond at the Escambia County Jail. He is charged with homicide. An attorney for Nealey was not listed on jail records and no additional details were immediately available.

Miller, 44, had been police chief since 2007. He and his wife had three children.

“We are heartbroken by the news,” Mayor Tyler Buttram said in a statement. “Please keep both families in your prayers as we work to move forward.”

The town administrator has appointed another officer as interim police chief.

The law enforcement conference was to be held Monday to Wednesday at the hotel, but it’s unclear if it is still on. An email to the organization was not immediately returned. One of the presenters said his session had been canceled. A Mannford police officer told The Tulsa World that the two were in Florida to learn about death-scene investigations.

“Mike Nealey was our detective. Lucky was a hands-on guy, so he always wanted to be there to learn things like that,” Officer Jerry Ridley said.

Brett Graves, the president of Carterson Public Safety, the company that organized the event, said in a statement that he was saddened by the news.

“We would like to extend our condolences to the families and agency of those involved.”

Mayor Buttram said the two men were “the best of friends” and told The Associated Press that he cannot fathom what happened in Florida.

“That’s what makes everything so hard. We can’t even wrap our heads around this,” he said. “The city’s just stunned. The police department’s stunned. Nothing makes sense; nothing adds up.”

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