July 17 (UPI) — A California police officer who accidentally shot his former partner in the stomach will be charged for involuntary manslaughter, officials said.
Fresno County Detective Jared Mullis fatally shot Sgt. Rod Lucas in October. Prosecutors said Mullis accidentally fired his gun and fatally struck Lucus in the chest.
Fresno County District Attorney Lisa A. Smittcamp said Mullis did unlawfully “kill Lucas, without malice but in commission of a lawful act which might produce death … without due caution and circumspection,” reported the Fresno Bee.
Mullis’ lawyer, Roger Wilson, said his client, 34, looked up to Lucas, 46, “like a big brother.”
“My client is really torn up about it emotionally,” Wilson said. “He loved Rod and Rod loved him; I know Rod’s family has reached out to him, but he was given direction by the sheriff’s office and by me not to talk to anyone about it.”
Wilson told KFSN that Mullis plans to contest the charges.
“It’s basically a career ending conviction – if he wants to remain in law enforcement or otherwise he needs to fight this.”
According to KMPH, there were four people in the room at the time of the incident. The detectives were discussing their equipment when Mullis’ gun fired and struck Lucas. Fresno Sheriff Margaret Mims described the incident as a “tragic accident.”
“There is no indication that there was anything intentional with this act. It’s very unfortunate, very sad,” Mims said. “We’re still extremely upset and sad that we lost Sgt. Lucas as a result of this. But our investigation does show that the weapon was not in the hands of Sgt. Lucas, but the other deputy.”
Lucas had been with the Fresno County Sheriff’s Office for more than 20 years. He was a father of four and had one grandchild.