In approving a $350,000 settlement Thursday to the family of Walter Haake Jr., Shawnee County Commissioner Vic Miller launched into a 10-minute defense of two county sheriff’s deputies and criticism of people who criticized them for using a Taser on Haake prior to his death on March 29, 2008.


In approving a $350,000 settlement Thursday to the family of Walter Haake Jr., Shawnee County Commissioner Vic Miller launched into a 10-minute defense of two county sheriff’s deputies and criticism of people who criticized them for using a Taser on Haake prior to his death on March 29, 2008.

At one point in his detailed description of the events of that evening, Miller began speaking haltingly, got red in the face and showed signs of becoming overcome by emotions.

Then, after the meeting, as Sheriff Dick Barta was speaking with reporters, he, too, was nearly overcome by emotion.

Miller said he was restrained from speaking about the incident during the time a lawsuit brought by Haake’s family was pending in court. So, it was a relief that he was finally able to set the record straight, he said.

“There has to be some comment made about this case,” Miller said. “Someone needs to come to the defense of these two officers. These officers did nothing wrong.”

Following his comments, the commission voted unanimously to approve the settlement of the lawsuit.

Miller said he was voting for the settlement because the county already had incurred $200,000 in costs in defending the lawsuit and the expenses would be higher if it proceeded to trial, even if a jury ultimately agreed there was no fault on the county’s part.

Both he, and later Barta, said that nothing in their comments was meant to take away from the tragedy of Haake’s death. They merely wanted the community to know the officers acted correc