Ambush killings of 2 Kissimmee cops gives Edgewater officer reason to think about his own mortality

Everett Glenn Miller, accused cop killer / Headline SurferHeadline Surfer photo illustration / Shown above are two Kissimmee cops who were shot and killed by a lone gunman, according to Chief Jeff O'Dell: Officer Matthew Baxter, 27, a three-year veteran, whose wife also is a city officer and the mother of his four children, was pronounced dead at the scene on Aug. 19th and a second officer, Sgt. Sam Howard, 36, a 10-year veteran, who was married with one child, died the next day. The alleged gunman, Everett Glenn Miller, 45, shown here in this booking photo provided by the Kissimmee Police Department, was arrested the night of the double shooting and is being held without bail on two counts of first-degree murder. Miller, who served in the military, has a history of mental issues, according to Kissimmee police. 
 
By HENRY FREDERICK
Headline Surfer

EDGEWATER, Fla. -- On Aug.19, two Kissimmee police officers were killed in a shootout. Later that weekend, an officer in Volusia County named Charles Geiger got ready for his overnight shift in Edgewater – and thought about what might happen on his shift. 

Geiger, 26, can’t help but think about his own mortality, knowing these two Kissimmee cops were shot to death in what their police chief described as an “ambush.” 

“It makes no sense – absolutely no sense,” Geiger said. 

“Death is much more of a risk now than it has ever been,” Geiger added, as he climbed into his SUV.

“Even in the short career I have had, it weighs on you more now than ever. However, it's something you can't dwell on or want to think about. When I put my uniform on, I think about only a few important things. Going home safe to my family. Protecting my fellow officers, no matter the sacrifice. Protecting the public."

Edgewater cop Charles Geiger / Headline SurferEdgewater police officer Charles Geiger, 26, shown here in this Headline Surfer file photo, can’t help but think about his own mortality, knowing two Kissimmee cops were shot to death in what their police chief described as an “ambush.” 

“It makes no sense – absolutely no sense,” Geiger said. 

“Death is much more of a risk now than it has ever been,” Geiger added, as he climbed into his SUV.

“Even in the short career I have had, it weighs on you more now than ever. However, it's something you can't dwell on or want to think about. When I put my uniform on, I think about only a few important things. Going home safe to my family. Protecting my fellow officers, no matter the sacrifice. Protecting the public."

But it was different the evening of Aug. 20. Geiger could not help but think of the fate that befell Kissimmee officer Matthew Baxter, 27, a three-year veteran, who was pronounced dead on the scene of the Friday night shooting. Sgt. Sam Howard, 36, a 10-year-veteran, had been clinging to life, but died in surgery the next day, Police Chief Jeff O'Dell said.

The alleged gunman, Everett Glenn Miller, 45, was arrested Friday by Osceola County Sheriff’s deputies. Two handguns were recovered. Miller has been charged with two counts of first-degree murder. 

Officer Geiger says he’s extra sensitive about the Kissimmee officers’ deaths because, three years ago, he had to use deadly force while on the job.

He and a sergeant were forced to open fire on a man who charged at them with a large sword after attempts to deploy a taser on the attacker had no impact.

Nine Florida cops killed by suspects in the last five years / Headline Surfer“My shooting still weighs on me,” Geiger readily acknowledged. "Not in a bad way per say, but it's something I always think about. What my fear is and it happens all the time is others’ complacency. It's what gets cops killed. Believe me, and it's crazy: Cops still think, ‘it won't happen to me’ and it's (expletive) crazy!”

Palmer Wilson, a former consultant for the International Association of Chiefs of Police and a retired lieutenant with the Montgomery County, Maryland, Department of Police, with 25 years of experience, said he empathizes with Geiger and other police who struggle with the devastating news that one or more of their own has been cut down.

"While the exact series of events that resulted in this tragedy remains to be determined, some questions that might be asked by the investigators within the Kissimmee Police Department seem appropriate," Wilson said.

"Without second guessing the officers' actions, as at this point we know little of them, one would wonder exactly what information was provided to the officers via their dispatch?" Wilson asked. "Was any previous event activity information recorded in the dispatch center geo-file for the address the officers were responding to, and if there was any, was it provided to the officers?"

Wilson said investigators will undoubtedly review whatever information was known about the "subject of the call," from any previous contact history with the police that may have been in an alert file provided to the two cops before the ambush.

Other pertinent questions that need to be answered by investigators are "What is the protocol within the department regarding the numbers of officers dispatched for specific types of calls" and "was the first one required to wait for the second officer before approaching?

Still, other questions that need to be answered are "What was the department’s use of force policy on displaying firearms in this type incident and did that impact the officer’s ability to defend themselves?"

All of these are surely questions, among many more, that the department's investigators will be reviewing as they "continue their search for the whys and whats" about this incident, Wilson said.

However, none of the above should be taken as "second-guessing, but rather as questions we need to ask to come to a complete investigation and understanding of what happened,” he added.

 

Henry Frederick Picture

Short Bio

Henry Frederick is publisher of Headline Surfer®, the award-winning 24/7 internet news outlet covering the Daytona Beach-Sanford-Orlando metro area via HeadlineSurfer.com for a decade now. A longtime cops & courts reporter focused on breaking news & investigative reporting, Frederick is among the Sunshine State's most prolific daily news reporters, having amassed dozens of journalism-industry awards in print anddigital platforms. Frederick is enrolled at Full Sail University in Winter Garden, FL, where he's three-fourths through the online Master of Arts program in New Media Journalism. His graduation is in August.