URBANA — A Champaign teen whose flight from police and subsequent arrest sparked allegations of police brutality Wednesday took legal responsibility for his actions.
Calvin Miller, 18, who listed an address in the 1000 block of South Duncan Road, pleaded guilty to one count of fleeing or attempting to elude a police officer and one count of resisting a peace officer, both misdemeanors, for a sentence of 18 months of probation.
The charges stemmed from an Oct. 24 incident that started about 1:30 a.m. in which Miller failed to stop for Champaign police Officer Matthew Rush after running over a curb as he left the University Village apartment complex in the 2000 block of Moreland Boulevard at a high rate of speed.
Miller disobeyed traffic signals and failed to stop for a squad car with its lights and siren on as he sped south from the complex and into a neighborhood on the west side of Neil Street, north of Bradley Avenue. He ultimately jumped from a still-running van after it crashed into the front porch of a house in the 200 block of Arcadia Drive.
After a brief foot chase, police caught up with Miller in a yard on Brookwood Drive, where two officers wrestled with him and one used pepper spray on him to ultimately get him into custody.
Under the terms of the plea agreement worked out by Assistant State's Attorney Sam Rosenberg and Assistant Public Defender Lindsey Yanchus, Miller also will perform 100 hours of public service, make $1,700 in restitution to the owner of the home to fix the porch, write the homeowner a letter of apology and attend and complete a traffic-safety-school program.
"This is an appropriate resolution of this case given the serious nature of the offense and Miller's lack of prior criminal history," said Champaign County State's Attorney Julia Rietz. "It is particularly important to me that the owner of the property is fully compensated for the damage to her property."
Another count of criminal damage to property was dismissed as part of the plea bargain.
Miller is the son of Martel Miller of Champaign, a longtime vocal critic of the Champaign Police Department.
After his son's arrest the elder Miller claimed that his son fled from police because he was scared of them and that officers rammed into the rear of his son's vehicle and beat him. The allegation that the police rammed his van was disproven by a squad car video of the pursuit. The city made the video public in the wake of a packed city council meeting where Miller supporters alleged excessive use of force against the teen.
The officers' interaction with the younger Miller could be heard but not seen on the videotape.
After the plea Wednesday morning before Judge John Kennedy, the younger Miller declined to comment on the advice of his father, who was in court with him. Martel Miller said he didn't want anything his son might say to be "misinterpreted" as his comments have been by the media.
The elder Miller maintained that his son fled because he feared the police.
"A lot of kids fear the police," Martel Miller said, "and what they do in uniform. They're not held accountable," he said of Champaign police.
Kennedy gave Calvin Miller permission to transfer his probation to another county or state where he plans to go to college. His father said he was attending Parkland College at the time of his arrest but dropped out because of the publicity. He did not say where his son plans to go to school.