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Autopsy shows no drug evidence in man shot by Forest Service officer

A white Toyota truck at the scene of a deadly shooting Jan. 5, 2018, in Oak Creek Canyon. Tyler Miller, 51, was fatally shot by a U.S. Forest Service law enforcement officer while on his way to a spiritual retreat. (Coconino County Sheriff’s Office)

A white Toyota truck at the scene of a deadly shooting Jan. 5, 2018, in Oak Creek Canyon. Tyler Miller, 51, was fatally shot by a U.S. Forest Service law enforcement officer while on his way to a spiritual retreat. (Coconino County Sheriff’s Office)

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Tyler Miller

PRESCOTT – An autopsy report by the Yavapai County Medical Examiner’s Office shows no evidence of illegal or prescription drug abuse or excessive alcohol use by a Kansas man shot and killed in Oak Creek Canyon in January by a U.S. Forest Service.

The autopsy and toxicology report comes following earlier police and witness reports that 51-year-old Tyler Miller, of Hutchinson, Kansas, was bloodied, walking naked along SR 89A, throwing large rocks at passing vehicles and had assaulted the Forest Service officer before he was shot and killed.

Miller, who reportedly had attended a spiritual retreat in the Sedona area, had crashed his truck off SR 89A. Police reports indicate he exited the truck through a broken front windshield.

His alleged bizarre behavior before being shot was not caused by drug or alcohol use, according to the report by AXIS Forensic Toxicology. The lab report shows Miller tested negative for an assortment of amphetamine and opioid drugs as well as marijuana. The test did show a .052 blood alcohol reading, well below Arizona’s legal threshold for intoxication.

The autopsy report shows Miller had been Tasered once and shot twice. He “died as a result of gunshot wounds to the abdomen,” the autopsy report states. That is consistent with findings at the time of the shooting by the Coconino County Sheriff’s Office.

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A photo of Hutchinson, Kansas, native Tyler Miller and his family. Miller was fatally shot Jan. 5 by U.S. Forest Service law enforcement officer in Oak Creek Canyon on Friday, Jan. 5, 2018, near Sedona. (Bretz & Young, L.L.C./Courtesy)

Police reports state Coconino County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Kyle Walter was requested to assist after it was transmitted across the radio that U.S. Forest Service Agent Krista Kuhns was at a vehicle collision on SR 89A near the Briar Patch Inn Jan. 5.

According to the report, Walter heard Kuhns give a description of a bloodied man who was walking naked southbound on SR 89A.

“I could hear in her tone she was shaky and was speaking loudly, consistent with an intense situation,” he said in the report.

He then heard over the radio that shots were fired.

“During my response, dispatch was attempting to contact [Forest Service Agent] Kuhns without any result. It was also reported to DPS that a suspect was down in the roadway,” Walter said in the report.

Prior to his arrival, Kuhns was no longer involved with the suspect, and other agencies had arrived.

Walter arrived and located DPS Troopers D. Cameron and K. Krueree. He was then informed that the man was being transported, and that Kuhns was not seriously injured “although shaken.”

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Tyler Miller's white Toyota truck with Kansas plates is removed from the scene of the fatal shooting on Jan. 5, 2018, in Oak Creek Canyon. (Vyto Starinskas/Verde Independent)

THE TRUCK

Walter and the DPS troopers then checked the white Toyota pickup with Kansas plates involved in the collision for any other potential subjects.

According to the report, the CCSO deputy observed extreme damage to the vehicle, which was “well-off” the west side of the highway.

“It should be noted the vehicle was entangled in powerlines and we could not access the vehicle interior at the time although we were able to look through the front windshield and see that there appeared to be no other occupants,” said Walter.

In the report, Detective Kelly Barr said he observed the truck laying on the driver’s side portion of the vehicle.

“The front windshield had been broken out and appeared to be how the occupant of the pickup truck had exited,” said Barr.

The detective said an “obvious vehicle path” could been seen through the brush and trees, which indicated that the truck was traveling northbound on SR 89A when it crossed the centerline, continued into the southbound lane against traffic, and exited the roadway northbound into the brush.

During this course of the traffic collision, the truck caused damage to the overhead powerlines, said Barr.

The report states the detective was notified by Criminal Investigations Lieutenant Gerrit Boeck that a witness had reported that Miller had been throwing rocks at vehicles traveling on SR 89A following the collision. Barr saw multiple softball or greater sized rocks in the roadway.

PROCESSING THE SCENE

After processing the locations at the scene, the following items of evidence were collected and booked into the Coconino County Sheriff’s Office Evidence and Property: blue jeans and black underwear; a right boot; a left boot; two socks; a leather belt; a t-shirt; a hotel key card; a dollar bill; and five pennies and one dime.

Detective Tristan Meyer was called to assist and performed a walk-through.

Booked into the County Sheriff’s Office Evidence and Property was: a black Taser with expanded cartridge; two silver Federal brand .40 Smith and Wesson caliber shell casings; medical intervention items; DNA swabs of a red stain from Scene A Location 5; green Taser cartridge blast doors; and DNA swabs of a red stain from Scene A Location 8.

Multiple agencies responded to the incident, including the FBI, Forest Service, DPS, Sedona Police Department, and Sedona Fire.

The FBI has not made any comment on the officer-involved shooting.