Officer-involved shooting in Coolbaugh Township ruled justified

April 2, 2020

The Monroe County District Attorney’s Office and the Pennsylvania State Police have conducted an investigation into the death of Matthew Adam Miller which occurred on Saturday, March 7, 2020, within A Pocono Country Place, in Coolbaugh Township, Monroe County, Pennsylvania.  Mr. Miller was shot multiple times by an officer of the Pocono Mountain Regional Police Department.  As a result of the investigation it is our determination that the shooting of Mr. Miller by the officer was a justified use of deadly force under the circumstances. 

The officer was on duty on March 7, 2020, in the A Pocono Country Place area responding to a domestic call.  At around 1:06 in the afternoon multiple officers from Pocono Mountain Regional Police Department, including the officer in question, were dispatched to 9592 Dawn Lane also in A Pocono County Place.  The caller was identified as Felicia Rico who was home with multiple children.  Ms. Rico indicated that she had been stabbed multiple times by her former paramour, Mr. Matthew Miller.  Several adults, present in the house,  intervened causing Miller to flee the residence.  Rico had sustained stab wounds to her shoulder and head area. 

While en route the officer received radio traffic from the Monroe County Control Center describing the actor and the fact that he was believed to be armed with a knife.  The officer is an 18 year veteran with the Pocono Mountain Regional Police Department, is the K-9 unit supervisor, and has an exemplary record.  The officer was in uniform, including full tactical gear, and was accompanied by his K-9.  As he came upon the vicinity he observed a neighbor standing on his deck getting his attention and pointing out another location nearby indicating that the suspect had been trying to put items underneath the deck of another home. 

The officer exited his vehicle and along with his K-9 went to examine the area.  The ground was snow covered and the officer observed what appeared to be fresh tracks in the snow.  A short time later his K-9 alerted to the presence of something under the porch. 

Directing his attention to the area where the K-9 had alerted, the officer could see the actor crouching under the deck against its foundation.  The actor, later identified as Matthew Miller, was holding a knife in his right hand.   The officer immediately ordered Miller to drop the knife; repeating the command multiple times.  The officer then observed Miller stab his own neck deeply with the knife, pull the blade out, and then began slicing his neck with a sawing motion, ‘like someone cutting a steak’.  At that point Miller made eye contact with the officer and stated:  “fuck it, you’re dead!”  Miller immediately charged the officer, while in a crouch, from a distance of approximately 15 feet.  The officer simultaneously gave ground and began firing his sidearm at the charging Miller.  Miller was struck four times; twice in the right upper thigh and twice in the upper right shoulder/chest area.  All four rounds were consistent with Miller charging the officer.  After the final round, Miller fell but remained in possession of the knife.  Backup arrived, Miller was disarmed, secured, and EMS called for assistance.  EMS treated Miller at the scene and transported him to Lehigh Valley Hospital Pocono campus.  Miller was subsequently pronounced dead at 2:21 pm.

An autopsy was performed detailing the cause of death as multiple gunshot wounds.  Additionally, Miller’s suffered multiple sharp force wounds to the necks, which appear self-inflicted. Blood samples were taken at autopsy and submitted for chemical analysis.  Miller was found to have in his system metabolites for cocaine, marijuana, as well as the active ingredient for marijuana. 

This joint investigation by the Office of the District Attorney and the Pennsylvania State Police included the processing of the scene by the Forensic Services Unit of the PSP, the processing of the residence where Ms. Rico was stabbed by Miller, the autopsy and toxicological analysis of Miller, a review of the 911 call and radio traffic, multiple witness interviews, and an in-depth interview of the officer. 

The circumstances, including the fact that Miller had just used a deadly weapon against Rico, was still in possession of a deadly weapon, refused to disarm despite repeated commands by the officer, engaged in extreme behavior, including stabbing his own neck, and then charged at the officer from a short distance away while brandishing the knife, required the exercise of deadly force against him. As a result, the death of Matthew was justified. 

We would like to thank the Pennsylvania State Police, in particular, Trooper Brian Janoski, and Monroe County Detective Craig Vanlouvender for their careful investigation into this matter, as well as Monroe County Coroner Thomas Yanac, and Chief Christopher Wagner of the Pocono Mountain Regional Police Department for his cooperation in this investigation.

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