LUDLOW, Vt. – Detectives with the Vermont State Police continue to investigate the shooting of a man late Monday, Aug. 15, 2022 by a member of the Ludlow Police Department on South Hill Road.
The man who was shot has been identified as Michael Mills, 35, of Cavendish. As of Tuesday, Aug. 16 afternoon, he has been hospitalized at Darmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in Lebanon, N.H.
The officer who fired his department-issued handgun has been 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 the Ludlow police for two-and-a-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 sought out Mills, and a brief encounter led to a short pursuit with the Ludlow police, whom Mills was able to elude.
According to a review of evidence, including video from body-worn cameras, Paul and Warfle attempted to stop Mills at about 9:30 p.m., but he drove off, and the officers followed. During the ensuing chase, Mills 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 calm Mills. When he failed to step out of the car, Warfle approached the vehicle and opened the front passenger door, at which point he yelled “Gun!” several times. Paul then fired a single round from his sidearm, striking Mills in the head. Police recovered a semiautomatic handgun from Mills’ vehicle. Mills does not appear to have fired a round during the encounter.
Mills received first-aid on the scene and was brought by ambulance to Springfield Hospital before he was airlifted to Dartmouth-Hitchcock.
Neither Paul nor Warfle were injured during the incident. Per Ludlow Police Department policy, both have been placed on paid administrative leave.
Once the Vermont State Police investigation is complete, the case will be turned over to the Vermont Attorney General’s Office and the relevant State’s Attorney’s Office for independent reviews of the police use of force.