The Fresno County District Attorney’s Office has filed a charge of involuntary manslaughter against a Fresno County sheriff’s detective in the death of Sgt. Rod Lucas last October.
The felony charge against Detective Jared Mullis arises from the fatal shooting of Lucas. A complaint was filed Friday after an investigation, the DA’s Office said. Along with the charge is an enhancement for the personal use of a firearm. If that is upheld, it would add to the penalty at sentencing.
Prior to the complaint being filed in Fresno County Superior Court, District Attorney Lisa A. Smittcamp met with Lucas’ family to advise them that criminal charges were forthcoming.
A bullet fired accidentally from Mullis’s gun fatally struck Lucas in the chest.
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The complaint said Mullis did unlawfully “kill Lucas, without malice but in commission of a lawful act which might produce death … without due caution and circumspection.”
A brief statement from the Fresno County Sheriff’s Office said officials were aware of the District Attorney’s Office’s decision.
“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,” the statement said.
Roger Wilson, Mullis’ lawyer, said his client looked up to Lucas.
“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 said he was surprised by the gun enhancement, which, if prosecuted, could add 10 years to a sentence.
“My understanding of this case is that this was just a tragic accident,” Wilson said. “But I know the DA took great care in making this decision; I’m sure they didn’t make this decision lightheartedly.”
He said there was no animosity between the two men and that Millis, 34, looked up to Lucas, 46, as “a big brother,” a mentor.
“It’s just another tragedy for Jared that he has to go through this and live with this again but now he has to live with this in a public forum,” Wilson said.
Fresno County Supervisor Buddy Mendes, a long-time friend of the Lucas family, said Friday’s complaint was upsetting.
“I’m just saddened that we still have to hear this, keep opening up these old wounds for everybody,” Mendes said.
Still, he said, the District Attorney’s Office also has a job to do and, in this case, he said “it’s a tough job.”
Mullis is still an employee of the Sheriff’s Office and is on paid leave, the statement added.
Lucas, a husband and father of four, had 20 years of law enforcement experience.
The gun went off as Lucas gathered with Mullis and two other colleagues that Monday afternoon in a room at the sheriff’s special investigations unit office near Fresno Yosemite International Airport.
There was no disagreement or argument occurring when the gun went off, Sheriff Margaret Mims said shortly after the incident.
“There was nothing like that going on,” Mims said during a news conference. “We have no reason to think it was anything but an accident.”
Lucas’ death came less than two months after two correctional officers were shot in the Fresno County Jail lobby.
In May, Lucas was honored on National Peace Officers’ Memorial Day, where his family met President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence.
An arraignment for Mullis is set for Aug. 3.