Nevada County DA clears deputies involved in non-fatal shooting |

Nevada County DA clears deputies involved in non-fatal shooting

The Nevada County District Attorney’s Office has cleared deputies involved in a non-fatal shooting last year, a report released this week states.

Deputies Justin Wenger and Brandon Cody, and Cpl. Rory Sonnier, shot Christopher Mills on Feb. 22, 2018, after a police chase led them through a home’s yard and near a trampoline. They fired at Mills, then stuck in a ravine, as he revved his engine and reached for an unknown item. Mills, 40, complied with officers only after saying he’d been shot in the arm, hand and hip, the report states.

“The danger to others was objectively apparent, imminent and real,” Assistant District Attorney Chris Walsh states. “The actions of the deputies were clearly reasonable and legally justifiable under the circumstances; no criminal charges will be filed against any of the deputies as a result.”

Treated at a Roseville hospital after the shooting, Mills was booked early March 2018 into the Nevada County Jail, reports state. Facing charges of assault on a police officer, evading police and first-degree burglary in Nevada County, and an unrelated attempted murder charge in Yuba County, Mills pleaded to charges of assault with a firearm and burglary in both cases and was sentenced to over 12 years in prison, authorities said. He’s eligible for parole in February 2028, records show.

The Sheriff’s Office placed the deputies on paid leave for six days, Undersheriff Joe Salivar said in an email.

According to Walsh’s report, the deputies fired their weapons after they responded to a burglary and found Mills, who refused to show his hands or turn off his truck. Mills then rammed a patrol car with his vehicle before fleeing and sped through a residential neighborhood. The chase ended after Mills’ vehicle became stuck.

“Deputies did not know if Christopher Mills was reaching for a gun and intended to shoot at them; such an action would have been consistent with his other actions,” Walsh continues, adding later: “Unbeknownst to the deputies Christopher Mills had drugs in his system at the time and had a warrant for attempted murder out of Yuba County.”


Deputies encountered Mills early Feb. 22, 2018, when responding to reports of a burglary in progress on Forest View Drive in Nevada City, authorities said.

The deputies arrived and saw a Ford F250 pickup, described in a call to authorities, leaving the area. Deputies approached either side of the truck while a third deputy used his patrol car to block its path. The officers ordered the suspect, identified as Mills, to stop his truck and show his hands. He refused to obey. When an officer tried to open the locked truck door, and then broke its window with a baton, Mills reversed a brief distance, shifted into drive and rammed the patrol car, the report states.

“Christopher Mills then sped past the other deputies in their patrol cars,” it continues.

Mills fled through a residential area before driving into a home’s driveway and then a side yard. His truck went down a small hill and into a ravine thick with bushes, where he became stuck, Walsh states.

Deputies approached on foot with their weapons drawn. They yelled commands at Mills, who revved his engine while in reverse. A deputy fired several times at a front tire. Attempting to barricade himself inside, Mills at one point reached for something in his truck, the report states.

“Deputies Wenger, Cody and Cpl. Sonnier simultaneously fired several shots into the interior of the truck,” Walsh states. “Christopher Mills immediately stopped revving the engine. He yelled out that he had been shot and for the first time held his hands up in compliance.”

To contact Staff Writer Alan Riquelmy, email or call 530-477-4239.

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