Fresno, CA - Fresno County Sheriff's Detective Jared Mullis, who fatally shot Fresno County Sheriff's Sergeant Rod Lucas in an accidental weapon discharge in 2016, has been charged with involuntary manslaughter.
The incident occurred in October,2016, during an informal discussion about how to carry their backup weapons. Detective Mullis' gun went off during the discussion, and Sergeant Rod Lucas was shot in the chest.
On Friday, the Fresno County District Attorney's Office announced that they had charged Detective Mullis with the felony charged. In court documents, prosecutors said Detective Mullis had no malice, but that Sergeant Lucas' killing was "unlawful because he failed to use due caution and circumspection."
Part of the charge included a 'weapons enhancement,' which could mean a longer prison sentence.
An attorney for Detective Mullis said that he could spend up to 14 years in prison and he's puzzled why charges were brought against his client. He said, "Clearly it was not a criminal act. It says not only do we want to punish you, we want to punish you a lot." The District Attorney's office had no comment.
Criminal charges can be expected in any accidental discharge which results in death. It's impossible to accidentally fire your gun and kill somebody without being either reckless or negligent, and death as a result of recklessness or negligence is why manslaughter charges exist.
The addition weapons enhancement in this case is some very aggressive charging for what is clearly an accident.
At the time the incident occurred, Fresno County Sheriff Margaret Mims said that 'it appeared to be a tragic incident, that Detective Mullis and Sergeant Lucas were talking in an office, and that there was no dispute.
Sergeant Lucas, who was 46 when he died, was a 20-year veteran of the Fresno County Sheriff's Office, and a married father of four, while Detective Mullis is a 10-year veteran.
According to KMPH, the Fresno County Sheriff's Office said in a statement:
"The Fresno County Sheriff’s Office is aware that the Fresno County District Attorney’s Office has chosen to file an involuntary manslaughter charge against Deputy Sheriff Jared Mullis in relation to the death of Sergeant Rod Lucas.
The untimely death of Sgt. Lucas has taken an emotional toll on the entire staff at the Sheriff's Office, the Lucas family, Deputy Mullis and his family.
Deputy Mullis is still an employee of the Fresno County Sheriff's Office and is currently on paid leave.
This complaint was filed after a thorough investigation of the shooting."
His first court appearance is scheduled for August 3.