FRESNO, Calif. – Nearly nine months after a devastating accident the Fresno County Sheriff’s family is reliving a nightmare. Last year, Sergeant Rod Lucas (pictured) was on the job when investigators said his colleague’s gun accidentally fired and killed him, reported ABC 30.
“For them to charge a crime now, Jared is obviously really torn up about it,” said Roger Wilson, Mullis’ attorney from Rains, Lucia, Stern, St. Phalle, and Silver.
The criminal complaint was filed Friday. It accuses deputy Jared Mullis of involuntary manslaughter. To add insult to injury, the prosecutor has also filed a gun enhancement charge.
Wilson said the first felony exposes Mullis to possibly four years in prison. Yet the gun enhancement charge would tack on another 10.
“It’s basically a career ending conviction—if he wants to remain in law enforcement or otherwise he needs to fight this.”
Legal Analyst Tony Capozzi said for the gun enhancement charge to stick it will be extremely important to know who was holding the gun when Lucas was killed. To date, that has not been publicly revealed.
At this point investigators have only disclosed that the gun was accidentally mishandled.
Capozzi said, “Because he’s law enforcement, he could be held to a higher standard—you’re trained how to use guns.”
Sergeant Lucas, 46, was at the Sheriff Department’s substation office near the Yosemite International Airport and was conducting a safety briefing with other detectives. The discussion involved the importance of back up weapons and how they should be carried.
During the meeting, a weapon belonging to another detective accidentally discharged, striking Sgt. Lucas in the chest. All officers in the meeting were plain clothes detectives and none were wearing bulletproof vests. Their normal investigations involved narcotics and other vice related crimes.
Following the weapon’s discharge, Sergeant Lucas immediately collapsed. He was provided emergency first aid and transported to Community Regional Medical Center where he succumbed to his gunshot wound a short time later.
Meanwhile, Mullis’ attorney said it is as if his client is reliving the tragic loss of his friend all over again. Peers have been required to stop by his home to check on him.
“My understanding is that several members of the Sheriff’s Department went out to make sure he was okay,” said Wilson.
It is a loss of a 20-year veteran that continues to resonate throughout the local law enforcement community.
Sheriff Margaret Mims released a statement Friday that said Sgt. Lucas’ death has taken an emotional toll on the entire staff here—on the Lucas family, and on deputy Mullis. She said Mullis is still an employee of the Fresno County Sheriff’s Office and is currently on paid leave.
(Photo: Fresno County Sheriff’s Office Twitter)