A Hailey man has been charged with a felony for allegedly fighting with police, but the father of the suspect said his son is mentally ill and was the victim of a "phony report" that led to a confrontation with police early Saturday morning in southern Hailey.
Christopher O. Mills, 32, was charged Monday in Blaine County Magistrate Court with felony assault or battery on a police officer and misdemeanor resisting arrest. He remained incarcerated Tuesday in the Blaine County jail on $7,500 bond.
He was also accused of aggravated assault, another felony, when arrested by Hailey police early Saturday morning for allegedly pointing a gun at another man. However, police have not found the gun Mills allegedly used and he has not been charged with that crime.
The case against Mills stems from a report Hailey police received around 2 a.m. Saturday morning from a man who complained that Mills had pointed a gun at him on Woodside Boulevard. Hailey Police Chief Jeff Gunter declined to release the name of the alleged victim, but said Monday that police hadn't yet determined why there was a confrontation between Mills and the man.
Gunter said the man gave police a description of the vehicle Mills was driving, a 1997 Honda Accord, and that Mills was located in the vehicle a short time later in a parking lot at the Balmoral apartments.
Gunter said Mills "started to attack" Patrolman Ross Scaggs as the officer was trying to handcuff him. Gunter said no punches were thrown, but while Mills was scuffling with Scaggs, Sgt. Derek Stewart saw Mills "reach for something in the small of his back."
"There was a report of a gun and that's where people sometimes keep guns—in the back of their pants," he said.
Gunter said Stewart fired Taser probes into Mills, who then fell, striking his head on an air conditioning unit. He said Stewart had to reactivate the Taser several times before Mills finally complied with officers.
Mills was transported by Wood River Fire & Rescue ambulance to St. Luke's Wood River Medical Center. He was treated for facial injuries and then taken to the Blaine County jail.
Gunter said he believes his officers handled the situation appropriately.
Otis Mills, a Hailey resident and the father of Christopher Mills, said his son has never owned a gun and that the report to police was "a lie."
"The whole cause of this is a phony report that caused my son permanent scars," Mills said.
He said his son moved to Hailey a few weeks ago from California because he is "mentally ill," suffering from paranoia and schizophrenia, and needed his father's help.
"When the police confronted him, he was scared and confused and didn't know what to do," Mills said "He didn't react fast enough because he's schizophrenic. Because he was trying to pull up his pants, they took him down because they thought he had a gun. They tased him in the face and beat the crap out of him.
"He's not a bad kid. He's the mind of a 15-year-old in the body of a 32-year-old man. When he's not on his meds, he's like a little kid.
"I don't blame the police. They didn't know he didn't have a gun. They were only doing their jobs.
"Christopher's still asking, 'Why did this happen?' He's an innocent victim who had this happen because of a lie."
Terry Smith: email@example.com