Michael Mills had made suicidal statements, rammed police cruiser
Michael Mills, the man who was shot by a Ludlow police officer on Aug. 15, has died.
Just hours earlier, Mills had made numerous 911 calls that included threats and suicidal statements. He then drove erratically in the police department parking lot, and drove off, only to ram a police cruiser. The officer who shot him was a rookie who had only been on the job for a month.
Mills was 36 years old at the time of his death Aug. 25 at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in Lebanon, New Hampshire. The New Hampshire Chief Medical Examiner’s Office performed an autopsy on Mills and determined the cause of death was a gunshot wound to the head, and the manner of death was a homicide. This is a medical finding indicating the death of an individual was caused by the intentional act of another person and is not a legal determination regarding whether the shooting was justified.
A ruling on the justification of the police use of deadly force will be made in separate, independent reviews by the Vermont Attorney General’s Office and the Orange County State’s Attorney’s Office. The Vermont State Police investigation into this incident is continuing, but the case is expected to be turned over to the prosecutors’ offices in the coming days.
The officer who fired his department-issued handgun is identified as Zachary Paul, 21, who joined the Ludlow Police Department in July following his graduation from the Vermont Police Academy. Paul was on field training and was accompanied by his field training officer, Jeffrey Warfle, 41, who has served with Ludlow police for two and half years.
VSP’s initial investigation shows that the incident started at about 6:45 p.m. Monday when Mills began making a series of what would eventually become more than two dozen 911 calls during which he made various complaints, threats and suicidal statements. Police in the area began seeking Mills, and a brief encounter led to a short pursuit with Ludlow police, whom Mills was able to elude. Later, Mills was reported to be driving erratically in Ludlow, including in the parking lot of the police department.
According to a review of evidence including video from body-worn cameras, two officers in a single cruiser attempted to stop Mills at about 9:30 p.m., but he drove off, and the officers followed. During the ensuing chase, Mills stopped his vehicle multiple times and at one point reversed his car and rammed the police cruiser before driving away. The pursuit ended at about 9:36 p.m. in the area of 451 South Hill Road when Mills drove off the road and into a tree.
Officers attempted to speak to and calm Mills. When he failed to step out of the car, one of the officers approached the vehicle and opened the front passenger door, at which point the officer yelled “Gun!” several times. The second officer then fired a single round from his department-issued sidearm, striking Mills in the head. Police recovered a semiautomatic handgun from Mills’s vehicle. Mills did not appear to have fired a round during the encounter, but a subsequent examination of the gun indicated that it might have malfunctioned.
Categories: Police Reports