CHICAGO (CBS) — When Cassandra Tanner Miller’s estranged husband shot and killed their 18-month-old son and then himself, her tragedy made headlines. Ever since that day, she has been fighting to change the way that law enforcement and the courts treat victims of domestic violence and their abusers.
In 2019, Cassandra said she wanted to make a law that would help fix all of the glaring loopholes that led to her family’s tragedy. Now, a bill named after her son is on its way to the Gov. JB Pritzker’s desk.READ MORE: Will The Ford Maverick Be A Game-Changer In The Auto Industry?
“Why did it have to be my son? Why did it have to be Colton? And the more that I walk this journey I think maybe it was me that had to do it,” she said.
Colton Miller would be about three and a half years old today. His mom still greets him every morning and gives him a kiss every night.
“I wake up every day and I go to bed and I kiss him here. How unfair is that?” said Cassandra with her son’s urn.
In September 2019 Cassandra’s estranged husband broke into her home in Joliet and savagely beat her.
“Dragging me, grabbing me by my hair, pushing me against stuff, slamming my head against walls,” she said then.
He then went upstairs and shot and killed their little boy, Colton.
There were so many red flags that were missed from his revoked FOID card that was never turned in, to his unmonitored stint out on an I bond, to Cassandra’s warning to the Illinois National Guard of his violent behavior and drug use that fell on deaf ears.READ MORE: Chicago’s Speed Cameras Churn Out Hundreds Of Thousands Of Tickets After Rule Change
“It’s a pain that takes your breath away at all hours of the day,” she said. “We have not had anything that is a full comprehensive breakdown to see where the gaps are.”
But thanks to Cassandra’s fierce advocacy over the last 18 months, now that’s going to happen with Colton’s Law and Colton’s Task Force.
“We we really felt the need to sit down and talk with all the experts at the table and make sure we’re looking at what we have done. What’s been proposed in other states and best practices, moving forward and that’s going to be a report that’s going to be delivered to the General Assembly and the governor,” said State Rep. David Welter, (IL-Dist. 75).
Welter sponsored the legislation that passed both the house and the senate as of May 30. He said the law creates a task force to dive deep into every aspect of the process, operation and enforcement of domestic violence laws, something that has never happened before.
“We need to figure out why this is happening, how do we stop it and what treatment can we give both the victims and the abusers so that this cycle doesn’t continue,” Cassandra said.
She said breaking that cycle is now her life’s mission.
“What I wouldn’t do to be able to have him here to hear him say, ‘I’m really proud of you, mom,” she said.
This wasn’t the first time lawmakers tried to pass this bill into law. Last year it flew out of committee and got unanimous support in the house, but the pandemic stopped the progress of that bill. They were so grateful to finally get it through.MORE NEWS: 'Assemble Chicago' Winner Announced To Create Multi-Use Spaces
Now Rep. Welter said the task force is expected to present an extensive report with their findings to the General Assembly sometime in 2022. Cassandra hopes to be there in person when Gov. Pritzker signs the bill into Colton’s Law.