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

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 victim in Friday's shooting at a Tampa police officer's home has been identified as 15-year-old Bradley Hulett of Lithia. Hulett is pictured here on the Facebook page of Operation Lotus, a Hillsborough County non-profit that supports families coping with tragedy and is raising money for Hulett's family. [Facebook]
    Bradley Hulett, 15, was described as sweet, intelligent and charismatic.
  2. A transient mother is facing three counts of felony child neglect after an officer found three children alone on a dilapidated bus early Saturday morning. [Gulfport Police Department]
    She has been charged with three counts of felony child neglect.
  3. Off-duty detention Deputy Leighton Ricketts, 32, was arrested Saturday on suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol early Saturday morning. A four-year veteran of the Sheriff’s office, Ricketts was placed on unpaid administrative leave pending the results of an internal affairs investigation. [Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office] [ANASTASIA DAWSON  |  HCSO]
    Detention Deputy Leighton Ricketts, a four-year veteran of the Sheriff’s Office, was placed on unpaid administrative leave pending the results of an internal affairs investigation.
  4. Jeremy Sutliff drags a freshly cut hop plant over to the harvesting machine at the Gulf Coast Research and Education Center in Wimauma. [DIRK SHADD  |  Times]
    Researchers are trying to make a variety of hops suitable to Florida’s climate.
  5. More than 1,300 summer and fall graduates were eligible to participate in the morning or afternoon commencement ceremonies Dec. 11 at the Pasco-Hernando State College New Port Richey campus. Approximately 345 degrees and certificates were conferred. [MICHELE MILLER  |  Times]
    Two ceremonies were held at the New Port Richey campus.
  6. Rocky, Sally Mae, Marsali and Paisley are available for adoption at area shelters. [Times]
    Shelter pet offerings throughout Tampa Bay
  7. Check for the latest breaking news and updates. [Times]
    “With guns you always want to assume they’re loaded,” said a Hillsborough sheriff’s captain.
  8. At Adventures in Music, administrator Rich Holley talks of the studio's performance based lessons that train students, young and old, to make music together. [BETH N. GRAY  |  Special to the Times]
    New studio offers private lessons and group sessions.
  9. Retired Lakeland deputy chief Clarence Grier has been missing since Wednesday afternoon. [Polk County Sheriff's Office]
    Retired deputy chief Clarence Grier had been missing since Wednesday afternoon.
  10. Mark Edward Allen, 60, was sentenced in federal court on Friday to 5 years in prison and three years of supervised release. Allen was arrested in June and charged with leaving an explosive device on the Bay Pines VA Healthcare System campus May 29. [Pinelllas County Sheriff's Office]
    Mark Edward Allen, 60, was sentenced to 5 years in prison after pleading guilty to VA bomb scare