Fresno de­tec­tive charged with col­league’s death

Lodi News-Sentinel - - State - By Scott Smith

FRESNO — Pros­e­cu­tors have filed crim­i­nal charges against a sher­iff’s de­tec­tive in Cen­tral Cal­i­for­nia ac­cused of killing his col­league in what au­thor­i­ties had ini­tially called a tragic and ac­ci­den­tal shoot­ing, of­fi­cials said.

Fresno County Sher­iff’s Sgt. Rod Lu­cas died in Oc­to­ber while talk­ing with a de­tec­tive about how to carry their backup weapons.

A gun fired, strik­ing 46-yearold Lu­cas in the chest, caus­ing him to drop to the ground.

De­tec­tive Jared Mullis was charged Fri­day with felony in­vol­un­tary man­slaugh­ter, the Fresno County District At­tor­ney’s Of­fice said.

In court pa­pers, pros­e­cu­tors say Mullis killed Lu­cas without mal­ice, but the killing was un­law­ful be­cause he failed to use “due cau­tion and cir­cum­spec­tion.” The charge in­cludes a weapons en­hance­ment be­cause Mullis used his firearm, which means he may face a longer sen­tence if con­victed.

Mullis’ de­fense at­tor­ney Roger Wil­son said Mon­day that his client could spend up to 14 years in state prison. Wil­son said that was ex­ces­sive be­cause Mullis ad­mired Lu­cas and the shoot­ing was ac­ci­den­tal.

“Clearly it was not a crim­i­nal act,” he said, adding con­cern for the po­ten­tial long prison sen­tence. “It says not only do we want to pun­ish you, we want to pun­ish you a lot.”

Fresno County As­sis­tant District At­tor­ney Blake Gun­der­son de­clined to com­ment on the case.

Fresno County Sher­iff Mar­garet Mims had said at the time of the shoot­ing that it ap­peared to be a tragic ac­ci­dent. The two were in an of­fice hav­ing a con­ver­sa­tion with two other col­leagues, and there was no dis­pute, she had said.

Mullis has been a Fresno County Deputy Sher­iff for 10 years, and Lu­cas was with the sher­iff’s of­fice for 20 years.

Sher­iff’s spokesman Tony Botti de­clined to com­ment Mon­day. He said in a state­ment that the shoot­ing has taken an emo­tional toll on the en­tire sher­iff ’s of­fice, in­clud­ing the fam­i­lies of both Lu­cas and Mullis.

Mullis is cur­rently on paid leave from the depart­ment, the of­fice said. He’s sched­uled for his first court ap­pear­ance in the case on Aug. 3.

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