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Firefighter recalls being shot 25 years after LA riots

Capt. Scott Miller had a bullet go through his neck and jawbone; the bullet severed his carotid artery, which caused a stroke


Scott Miller, the LAFD firefighter who got shot in the face during the 1992 riots, stands outside his fire-damaged home, May 17, 1996 in Newbury Park, Calif.

AP Photo/Nick Ut

By FireRescue1 Staff

LOS ANGELES — Twenty-five years after the L.A. riots, one firefighter recalls being shot in the face while responding to an emergency during the civil unrest. reported that Capt. Scott Miller, who was an apparatus operator at the time, was driving a fire truck hours after the riots began on April 29, 1992.

“That day and at that point in what was happening, I don’t think we really realized where it was going,” Capt. Miller said of the seriousness of the riots. “It’s not typical … to feel threatened by the public. In general, the public is very supportive of the fire department.”

As Capt. Miller drove the truck through the city, a colleague noticed that a car was trying to pass them on the right.

“It’s very strange to have someone pass a fire truck that’s going to an emergency to a fire,” Paul Jordan, who’s now an inspector, said. “And I looked over and he pulled out a gun and pulled the trigger and I said, ‘They’re shooting at us.’”

A bullet went through Miller’s neck and jawbone; the bullet severed his carotid artery, which caused him to have a stroke and become temporarily paralyzed. Miller spent seven weeks in the ICU, two weeks in rehab and six months in recovery. He returned to the LAFD, but was on restricted duty and later became a captain in the Fire Prevention Bureau.

“I have been able to enjoy a long career with the Los Angeles Fire Department,” Capt. Miller said. “I’m on my 36th anniversary this year. I have a grandchild that I have been able to watch grow up and that all is just the fruits of happiness.”

Thurman Woods, who shot Miller, was caught four months after the riots. He pleaded no contest to attempted murder and was sentenced to 16 years in prison.

“I had a bad day, I got shot. But I had a really good day from the standpoint. I had a severed carotid artery and I survived it,” Capt. Miller said.