1. News

He was Trooper of the Year. Then he sent explicit messages to teen girls he met on the job.

Phillip McMillan, honored in 2016 as local Trooper of the Year, resigned earlier this year before he was confronted with results from a state inspector general’s investigation. McMillan’s stalking of two teenage girls he met in a traffic encounter was inappropriate but not criminal, the investigation found. []
Phillip McMillan, honored in 2016 as local Trooper of the Year, resigned earlier this year before he was confronted with results from a state inspector general’s investigation. McMillan’s stalking of two teenage girls he met in a traffic encounter was inappropriate but not criminal, the investigation found. []
Published Aug. 12, 2019

The two teenage girls were driving home from Palm Harbor University High last October when another driver side-swiped their car and took off.

They called police. Florida Highway Patrol trooper Phillip McMillan arrived to help. He was friendly with the girls, both 16 at the time, said the mother of the teen who was driving. They asked if they could photograph him doing a dab, a popular dance move. He said no but that he could add the girls on Snapchat, where photos and messages disappear after the recipient views them.

He started messaging the girls, and the chatting soon grew inappropriate, according to court documents. He asked for photos and told the girls sexually explicit things he wanted to do to them.

"She's trying to do the responsible thing about calling and reporting the side swipe, and it turns into a freaking nightmare," said the mother of the driver, who asked for anonymity for her and her daughter because of the nature of the allegations.

RELATED COVERAGE: Investigators say man shot by trooper fired first

The girls eventually reported his actions to their school resource officer, sparking an internal inquiry within the Highway Patrol that revealed more offenses, a spokesman said. When internal investigators went to interview McMillan in February, he resigned.

Police records show he had also broken into an ex-girlfriend's house through a window and threatened to kill himself. The ex-girlfriend told police she had broken up with him after finding out about his contact with the teenage girls.

The encounter with the ex-girlfriend led the Tampa Police Department to pursue a court order to seize his gun under Florida's red flag law.

Three years earlier, in 2016, McMillan had been honored as Trooper of the Year at the Our Heroes Luncheon in Tampa for stopping an armed man fleeing a trail of hit-and-run crashes. The two men exchanged gunfire in a Pinellas County industrial area.

RELATED COVERAGE: FHP trooper arrested for sexual activity with child, Pasco deputies say

Reached by phone, McMillan, 31, told the Tampa Bay Times he lives in Orlando now and is looking for jobs. He called the allegations against him "crap" but did not go into specifics, instead deferring comment to his St. Petersburg lawyer, Melinda Morris. Morris did not return requests for comment.

"So y'all just pull records and slander people when you feel like it, or what?" he said. "I'm a human being. I worked for someone. I got screwed over. And I'm trying to move on."

Information about the social media contact with the teens was turned over in December by the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office to the inspector general with the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, said Highway Patrol Capt. Thomas Pikul. An investigation was opened.

The inspector general learned that along with the inappropriate contact, McMillan failed to complete a crash report in the fender bender involving the teens. He also failed to upload his in-car camera video and claimed time for which he didn't work, Pikul said.

McMillan was placed on administrative leave Jan. 15, according to a police report. Two days later, the ex-girlfriend told police, McMillan informed her about his contact with the two teens. She ended the relationship.

McMillan threatened to end his own life with his 9mm pistol, the woman told police, then repeated the threat a few days later, sending her a photo of a noose.

On Jan. 22, the woman was at her apartment with friends and decided to block his phone number to keep him from contacting her, she told police. About half an hour later, he broke through a screen and tumbled into her apartment through an open window. He refused to leave, and she and a friend wrote that they felt unsafe because he alluded to having a gun in his car.

They called 911 and left the apartment. By the time they returned, he was gone, but he showed up at the woman's job the next morning to ask her not to press charges, according to police records. He later pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor trespassing charge, court records show.

Because the woman had expressed concerns for her safety, the Times is not identifying her.

The contentious break-up made it into a petition for injunction against McMillan filed on behalf of one of the girls. According to the petition, the inspector general told the girl's father that McMillan's ex-girlfriend reported he had said, "I just want to kill her," speaking about one of the girls.

The inspector general tried to interview McMillan on Feb. 14 in Tampa. He resigned instead. The four allegations against him were sustained.

The agency also spoke with the Pinellas-Pasco State Attorney's Office about pursuing criminal charges. Prosecutors determined that McMillan's actions weren't criminal because he didn't send obscene photos or attempt to pursue or solicit sex with either of them, said Assistant State Attorney Kendall Davidson.

Less than a week after McMillan's resignation, a Tampa police attorney cited the encounter between McMillan and his ex-girlfriend in a risk protection order saying McMillan "poses a significant danger of causing personal injury" to himself or others "in the near future." A judge granted the order Feb. 25, according to court records. It remains in effect for a year.

In July, a judge also granted stalking injunctions on behalf of the two teenage girls until next August, after the girls turn 18. Court records show McMillan had been attending counseling sessions and the injunction orders him to keep going.

Parents of both girls said they wanted the injunctions in effect for longer, although the teen driver's mother said she was grateful for the small victory. Greg Reyes, father of the other teen, still doesn't understand how McMillan's actions aren't considered criminal and said he's nervous about what happens when the injunction is up.

McMillan's contact with his daughter went further than messages, Reyes said. He showed up at her former job at a Panera Bread restaurant. He also drove by the family's apartment complex and sent photos of the complex to the girl. Now, she's afraid to walk their dog outside, Reyes said, or go out with friends as much.

"She's concerned she might bump into him when she least expects it," said Reyes, 43.

The other teen's grades tanked the second semester of her junior year, after her contact with McMillan, her mother said. She was so shaken up she moved more than 1,000 miles away.

Her mother hopes McMillan isn't allowed to work in law enforcement again.

"He doesn't belong working with the public like that," she said, "let alone with vulnerable young girls."

Contact Kathryn Varn at or (727) 893-8913. Follow @kathrynvarn.


  1. The Jose Gasparilla sails down the Seddon Channel among a flotilla of boats, on the way to the Tampa Convention Center for the Gasparilla Pirate Invasion on Saturday, Jan. 25, 2020 in Tampa.  [MARTHA ASENCIO RHINE  |  Times]
    We were warned. Now the pirates are here. Stay with all day for the latest reports.
  2. TRUMP [SCOTT OLSON  |  Getty Images]
    As the Democratic primary intensifies before the first contests to decide the nominee, Trump and his allies have issued a series of curiously favorable comments about Sanders.
  3. Officers later found an adult man with gunshot wounds in a car crash, but are still searching for the second man
  4. After a fire Saturday morning, a boat was left nearly unrecognizable [Courtesy of Pinellas County Sheriff's Office]
    The flames were visible from Gandy Boulevard. Nobody was injured in the fire
  5. Harrison Peters, Chief of Schools in Hillsborough County, is close to landing a job as superintendent in Providence, R.I. [HCPS  |  Handout]
    The Boston Globe says Peters is days from being given a superintendent position.
  6. “My body, my choice” was the rallying cry on the anniversary of Roe v. Wade in the state Capitol, where abortion rights activists decried a fast-tracked bill that would raise the bar for minors seeking abortions. (AP Photo/Aileen Perilla) [AILEEN PERILLA  |  AP]
    Abortion supporters worry about Florida’s move toward parental consent and what may follow.
  7. In this image from video, House impeachment manager Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., speaks during the impeachment trial against President Donald Trump in the Senate at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Friday, Jan. 24, 2020. [AP]
    As Democrats finished their third day before skeptical Republican senators, Trump’s legal team prepared to start his defense, expected on Saturday.
  8. In this July 30, 2019, file photo, a Super Mario figure is displayed at a showroom in Tokyo. After months of being tight-lipped, Comcast executives on Thursday, Jan. 23, 2020, said the fourth park at Universal Orlando would be based on characters from Nintendo. [KOJI SASAHARA  |  AP]
    Universal Studios is building theme parks based on Nintendo video games across the world. Orlando is set to get its Super Nintendo World in 2023.
  9. People climbing the Sydney Harbour Bridge stop under flags flying at half-mast as mark of mourning and respect in Sydney, Australia, Friday, Jan. 24, 2020, for three U.S. crew members of an aerial water tanker that crashed Thursday while battling wildfires in Australia. [RICK RYCROFT  |  AP]
    The deaths came during an unprecedented wildfire season that has left a large swath of destruction in Australia’s southeast.
  10. Delvin Ford, 22, of St. Petersburg, is facing a second-degree murder charge after his accomplice, Marquis Golden, was shot and killed by a Pinellas deputy Thursday night, Sheriff Bob Gualtieri says.  He says the men -- armed with an AR-15 and a handgun, shown right -- confronted the deputy. [Pinellas County Sheriff's Office]
    The deputy was confronted by two armed men in a St. Petersburg alley, according to the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office.