CHICAGO â€” As they pulled up in separate unmarked vehicles, surrounding the car of a convicted felon, the Chicago Police partners shared one last cell-phone exchange.
Yes. You ready?
Let’s do this.
When they got out of their cars, Officers Nathaniel Taylor Jr. and Lemornet Miller announced they were police, and the suspect responded with a seemingly compliant nod of his head.
But within seconds, Taylor lay dying on a South Side street, hit by three shots allegedly fired by the suspect, Lamar Cooper. Cooper, who had the gun in his lap and out of the sight of either officer, had slowly opened his car door and blindly aimed behind him, police said.
As Taylor fell, Miller shot Cooper 13 times.
On Wednesday, Miller accepted the department’s highest honor for his actions that day.
Cooper survived the shooting and is charged with killing Taylor, 39.
“When I shot him, the force of the bullets turned him around,” Miller recalled. “He still had a silly smirk on his face. It was evil. It was like he had the devil in his eyes.”
Miller, 37, wore a remembrance card for Taylor tucked inside his hat during the ceremony. He said Taylor was a good partner, someone he worked easily with and someone he could trust — even on high-risk assignments like this one.
He recalled how Taylor often talked about his daughter and worried about planning a good future for her.
Miller, who is married and has a 4-year-old daughter, decided to be a police officer when he was very young.
As he grew up, the urge grew even stronger, he said.
And nothing has changed — even after he lost his partner.
“There’s more idiots and more bad guys,” said the nine-year police veteran. “You can’t just stop. . . . We all learn from it, and we keep going.”