Charges against Portales street preacher dropped

Tony Parra: Freedom Newspapers

PORTALES — The 9th Judicial District Attorney’s office has dropped charges against a street preacher accused of disorderly conduct and resisting arrest. Deputy District Attorney Donna Mowrer dropped the charges on Oct. 19 in Portales Magistrate Court.

Shawn Miller, 33, was arrested the morning of April 17 for causing a disturbance to motorists, according to Portales police reports. Officer Charles Smart was dispatched in reference to a subject yelling at passing vehicles.

Miller repeatedly told Smart he didn’t have to listen to him because he was preaching the word of God and wasn’t doing anything wrong, according to the police incident report. Miller walked away from the police officer and continued yelling at vehicles, at which time he was arrested for disorderly conduct and resisting arrest, the report said.
“Every person in the town knew what we were doing,” Miller said. “We were there without incident. We never caused a scene. We were never screaming and hollering, nor were we bothering anyone.”

Mowrer said charges were dropped against Miller because he had expressed a desire to move out of state with no intent of returning.

“It wouldn’t be a good use of the state’s funds (to prosecute the case), Mowrer said.

She said the decision was made after discussion with District Attorney Matt Chandler.

If Miller had been convicted of the charges against him, he faced a maximum punishment of 1 1/2 years in jail.
Law enforcement authorities said at the time of Miller’s arrest that his preaching was creating a disturbance to passing motorists; they said he was arrested because he did not give a responding officer any opportunity to remedy the situation.

Miller said he feels he was not treated fairly during the process.

“I was abandoned in jail for 109 days,” Miller said. “ As you could probably imagine, my life has been complete chaos since April. I have been totally dependent on God and our family. We do not have a car, job, or savings. This totally wiped us out.”

Mowrer said Miller was eligible for bond during the time he was incarcerated at the Roosevelt County Detention Center.
Miller was released in early August from RCDC. He posted a $3,000 appearance bond. At that time he was receiving assistance in his defense from the American Civil Liberties Union.

Miller is now living in Moselle, Miss., with his wife’s grandparents. Miller said this experience won’t necessarily keep him from coming back to Portales.

“I will indeed come back to Portales,” Miller said. “I would like to open a ranch of refuge. It will be a place for people who have been cast out by society.”

Mowrer said she could refile charges against Miller if he returns to the community.

“That’s something I would consider,” she said. “It would be speculation to say at this point.”

PNT Managing Editor Karl Terry contributed to this report.