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State House approves naming off-ramp for fallen McKeesport police officer

| Thursday, June 12, 2014, 3:56 a.m.

The state House unanimously approved legislation to name an off-ramp from the McKeesport-Duquesne Bridge for a city police officer killed in the line of duty.

In January, Sen. James Brewster introduced the bill naming the roadway from the bridge to Route 148, locally known as East Fifth Avenue/Lysle Boulevard, the Officer Frank Miller Jr. Memorial Ramp.

The Senate unanimously approved the bill in May and it now heads to Gov. Tom Corbett's office for his signature.

“I am thankful that the House moved my legislation in honor of Officer Miller and I am hopeful that the governor will sign the measure into law,” Brewster, D-McKeesport, said. “The naming of the bridge ramp for Officer Miller will serve as a reminder of his sacrifice.”

Miller, 25, served the police department for six months before his death on Nov. 10, 1993. He was walking a downtown beat patrol when he was shot with his own weapon during a scuffle. As Miller attempted to arrest reputed vagrant Andre Harper, then 39, for panhandling, Harper grabbed Miller's service revolver.

Harper sustained a hand wound. Miller was shot twice.

One shot to his chest was blocked by a bulletproof vest but the second was a fatal head wound.

Harper was convicted of first-degree murder in 1996, then retried after an appellate court ruled his original counsel didn't present evidence that he suffered from schizophrenia.

Harper was convicted again in 2002 and sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole. Appeals were rejected by state appeals courts with the Supreme Court dismissing a petition for allowance of appeal on April 30, 2008.

Brewster's bill was co-sponsored by 13 colleagues, and had the support of Rep. Marc Gergely, D-White Oak.

“Honoring Officer Miller by having a portion of the McKeesport-Duquesne Bridge named for him is fitting and I was very pleased that the House acted quickly in moving Sen. Brewster's legislation,” Gergely said. “Frank Miller was a young, devoted police officer who served the city and he deserves to be remembered for his life and his work.”

Miller originally was from Murrysville. In an article noting the 10th anniversary of his death, family and friends described Miller as chivalrous.

“We should pause to remember that Officer Miller was dedicated to helping people and serving the public and his life was taken in the line of duty,” Brewster said. “Police officers, firefighters and emergency service personnel have difficult jobs and they often step into life-threatening situations in order to protect the public.”

Michael DiVittorio is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-664-9161, ext. 1965, or mdivittorio@tribweb.com.

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