Crime and Justice

Cavendish man in critical condition after he’s shot by police in Ludlow

White markings on the pavement on South Hill Road show the area where a police shooting took place Monday night that left a Cavendish man in critical condition Tuesday afternoon at Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center in Lebanon, New Hampshire. Photo by Alan J. Keays/VTDigger

Updated at 6:24 p.m.

LUDLOW — Vermont State Police are investigating after a Ludlow police officer shot a Cavendish man Monday night following a chase in which the man rammed a cruiser with his vehicle, according to a state police press release.

The wounded man, Michael Mills, 35, was in critical condition at Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center in Lebanon, New Hampshire, according to an update from state police Tuesday afternoon.

According to state police, Mills began calling police around 6:45 p.m. Monday, making a series of more than two dozen 911 calls with “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,” state police said in the release. “Later, Mills was reported to be driving erratically in Ludlow, including in the parking lot of the police department.”

State police said two Ludlow officers in one cruiser tried to stop Mills around 9:30 p.m., but he drove off with the officers following him. A pursuit ensued, with Mills stopping his vehicle several times and at one point reversing his car and ramming the cruiser before driving away, state police said.

The chase ended around 9:36 p.m. in the area of 451 South Hill Road, when Mills drove off the road and into a tree, according to state police, who said they are reviewing evidence that includes video from body-worn cameras.

“Officers attempted to speak to and calm Mills,” state police said. “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 other officer then fired a single round from his department-issued handgun, hitting Mills in the head, according to the release. 

Police recovered a semi-automatic handgun from Mlls’ vehicle, state police said. They did not indicate where that gun was located or whether Mills brandished it. 

“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,” state police said in the release.

Neither of the Ludlow officers were injured and, per Ludlow Police Department policy, they have been placed on paid administrative leave. Police did not provide the identities of the officers, but said the names will be released as the investigation continues.

State police, the agency which investigates police shootings in Vermont, generally waits 24 hours before releasing the names of the officers involved. 

Once the state police investigation is done, the case will be turned over to the Vermont Attorney General’s Office and a state’s attorney office for independent reviews to determine if the use of force was justified. 

Police did not provide additional information. Investigators will often hold a press conference following a police shooting, but did not do so Tuesday, which was also a state holiday, Bennington Battle Day. 

Adam Silverman, a Vermont State Police spokesperson, did not immediately respond to a call or email with additional questions after he emailed the press release Tuesday afternoon.

It was not clear whether state police would publicly release the body camera footage referenced in the press release. Typically, state police do not release such footage while an investigation is ongoing. 

Ludlow Police Chief Jeffrey Billings referred questions Tuesday to the Vermont State Police. 

By late Tuesday morning, investigators were no longer at the scene on South Hill Road. 

The shooting in Ludlow was the second by a Vermont law enforcement officer in less than three days. State Police are also leading the investigation into the shooting by a Burlington police officer on Saturday.

Police said 20-year-old David Johnson suffered non-threatening gunshot wounds when he was shot by Sgt. Simon Bombard of the Burlington Police Department,

State police said in a news release Sunday that Johnson had a knife and charged at an officer before Bombard shot him in the leg.

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