MEDFORD, Ore. – An Oregon State Police trooper was cleared of any wrongdoing in a shooting that took place along Interstate 5 last month.
The Jackson County District Attorney’s Office said on the afternoon of July 18, 2019, 73-year-old Tony Orland Mill reportedly approached a witness with a pistol, threatening to kill himself near Interstate 5 Exit 45 between Rogue River and Gold Hill.
Testimony made during a grand jury trial indicated Mills was distraught because of an allegation of sexual abuse.
Mills was picked up by his wife in a gold SUV before police could arrive at the scene.
Prosecutors said later that evening, after eating dinner with his wife at their Gold Hill home, Mills left in their vehicle and said he was “going to take care of everything.”
According to the district attorney’s office, Mills called police from below the I-5 overpass at Exit 45A. He said he was armed and suicidal and was calling authorities so they’d know where to find his body.
Jackson County Sheriff’s Office deputies and Oregon State Police troopers arrived at the scene and found Mills, who was armed with a gun, still alive under the overpass.
Prosecutors said Mills refused to drop the gun and fired a shot. Senior Trooper Michael Lacer reportedly thought Mills was firing in the direction of law enforcement officers, so he fired once, striking Mills in the arm.
Trooper Lacer later testified he thought Mills was attempting “suicide by cop.”
Prosecutors said it was later determined Mills fatally shot himself in the head before being shot a fraction of a second later by Trooper Lacer. The gunshot wound inflicted by Lacer would likely not have been fatal. Therefore, the official cause of death was ruled a suicide.
After hearing testimony about the shooting, a grand jury decided Trooper Lacer was fully justified in his actions in compliance with Oregon law.