Man, whose police shooting was ruled justified, had already lost his life

In the months leading up to his fatal encounter with Las Vegas police on Aug. 27, Robert Mills had lost his job, his home and his car.

The 38-year-old man no longer could support his family, so he borrowed a vehicle and began committing armed robberies.

“He did what he did because he was a desperate man,” his wife tearfully testified Thursday.

Wendy Whitfield, 31, and Mills had lived together for four years. Although they had a wedding ceremony and considered each other husband and wife, they weren’t legally married.

Whitfield took the witness stand Thursday during a coroner’s inquest into Mills’ death. Justice of the Peace Melanie Andress-Tobiasson prohibited members of the news media from photographing the distraught woman during her testimony.

After deliberating for 20 minutes, the jury’s five women and two men ruled unanimously that officers acted justifiably when they fatally shot Mills near a convenience store on the corner of Nellis and Charleston boulevards.

Whitfield listened to much of the day’s testimony and spoke to the Las Vegas Review-Journal after hearing the verdict.

“In my opinion, what Robert did was wrong. I’m not going to deny that,” she said. “The way the police went about doing what they did was excessive.”

What she really wants the community to know, however, is that Mills was a devoted husband and father.

“He was a good man,” she said. “And regardless of what he had done in the past, for the four years that I knew him, he was a law-abiding citizen.”

Whitfield and Mills met while selling time shares together. Once their relationship turned romantic, she became a stay-at-home mom, and Mills became the family’s sole breadwinner.

They had no children together, but Whitfield has a 7-year-old daughter who lived with the couple, and Mills paid child support for his 17-year-old son and 5-year-old daughter until he lost his job.

Whitfield said Mills was suffering from neuropathy and memory loss, prompting his doctor to declare him disabled early this year.

“He could no longer do his job,” Whitfield said.

During her testimony Thursday, Whitfield described the family as “essentially homeless.” She said Mills took methadone to manage his pain and was depressed about his inability to support his family.

She recalled him commenting that he was going to make money the only way he knew how. She knew what that meant, and she told him in no uncertain terms that if he felt he needed to commit robberies, “he might as well say goodbye to his family.”

Whitfield knew Mills had a criminal history, but she told the Las Vegas Review-Journal they didn’t discuss the details of his past. But he told her more than once that he had no intention of returning to prison, that he would make police shoot him first.

The woman said Mills was on his way to receive a loan from a family friend on the day of the shooting, but he never arrived.

She last spoke to him at 10:15 p.m.

“He told me he was on his way home,” Whitfield testified.

According to evidence presented at the inquest, that was right around the time Mills tried to rob the casino area of a grocery store at Nellis Boulevard and Stewart Avenue. A short time later, he robbed another grocery store at Charleston Boulevard and Sloan Lane.

After Mills’ death, police found $99 in loose bills around his body.

Officers Breck Hodson and Jeffery Abell, members of the Las Vegas police problem-solving unit, were driving by a 7-Eleven store when they spotted a sport-utility vehicle that matched the description of the robbery suspect’s vehicle.

They proceeded to pull up behind the SUV, which was parked at the gas pumps, in their unmarked car.

Hodson testified that he saw the suspect make eye contact with him through the SUV’s side-view mirror, and he decided the officers needed to get out and approach him.

“I announced, ‘Metro police. Let me see your hands,’ ” Hodson testified.

He said the suspect then leaned out of the driver’s side window and aimed a gun at him. A homicide detective testified that Mills fired first, but Hodson said he doesn’t recall that.

Hodson said he began firing at the suspect, who next aimed his gun at Abell and then at Nathan Jones, a patrol officer who had arrived at the scene.

All three officers fired at Mills, but only bullets from weapons fired by Hodson and Abell struck the suspect.

Abell said he saw a muzzle flash inside the suspect’s vehicle after Hodson demanded to see the man’s hands.

“I actually heard my partner shoot in response to that, and then I shot,” Abell testified.

The officer said he then saw the suspect turn toward him. Abell ducked before standing back up and continuing to shoot.

Dr. Lisa Gavin, a medical examiner with the Clark County coroner’s office, performed an autopsy on Mills and testified that he suffered 10 entrance wounds and one grazing wound.

She said Mills had a potentially lethal level of methadone in his system when he died from the gunshot wounds.

Other evidence presented at the inquest showed that Hodson fired 14 shots, Abell fired 16 and Jones fired seven.

Also, Mills fired three shots from a revolver while trying to commit the robberies and two shots during the exchange of gunfire with police. The revolver was found on the ground near the driver’s door of the SUV.

Whitfield said she didn’t know Mills had a gun.

“He knew how strongly I felt about him not owning a gun,” she said. “I don’t believe in guns. I don’t want them in my home or around my children.”

Contact reporter Carri Geer Thevenot at cgeer@reviewjournal.com or 702-384-8710.

ad-high_impact_4
News
NSPCA Gets Kittens From LA
Man killed during road-rage incident
Las Vegas police are looking for two men involved in the shooting death of a man outside a 7-Eleven story at Bonanza Road and Maryland Parkway on Nov. 12, 2018. (Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department)
VA Southern Nevada Healthcare System hosts Veterans Day Car Show and BBQ
The 4th Annual Veterans Day Car Show and BBQ is held in celebration of Veterans Day at the VA Southern Nevada Healthcare System Medical Center in North Las Vegas, Saturday, Nov. 10, 2018. (Caroline Brehman/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Wildfires in Southern California
Wildfires hit Ventura County, Calif., on Nov. 9, 2018. (Richard Brian/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Dedication of Nevada's Battle Born memorial
The state of Nevada on Friday dedicated its Battle Born memorial honoring 895 state residents who have died in America’s wars.
Las Vegas police and Sunrise Children's Hospital hope to prevent infant deaths
The Metropolitan Police Department and Sunrise Children's Hospital held a press conference to get the message out on preventable infant deaths attributed to "co-sleeping" and other unsafe sleeping habits. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
No serious injuries after car hits tree in south Las Vegas
One person reported minor injuries but wasn’t hospitalized after a Wednesday morning crash in the south valley.
Nellis Air Force Base keeps airmen fed
Nellis Air Force Bass airmen have delicious and healthy food items, and a variety of dining facilities to choose from. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Suspicious package found at central Las Vegas post office
Las Vegas police determined that a suspicious package found Monday morning at a central valley post office was not a threat.
Suspicious package found at central Las Vegas post office
Police evacuated the area around the Garside Station post office early Monday morning near Oakey and Decatur boulevards.
With husband's passing, family in limbo for workers' comp claim
Meredith Tracy's husand, Russell Tracy, died more than a year ago on his first day working for a new company when he fell 22 feet into a manhole that was not properly safeguarded. His employer was fined $82,000 in penalties for unsafe practices, but the company has denied her workers' compensation claim, leaving her with no compensation since the death. Rachel Aston Las Vegas Review-Journal @rookie__rae
With husband's passing, family in limbo for workers' comp claim
Meredith Tracy's husand, Russell Tracy, died more than a year ago on his first day working for a new company when he fell 22 feet into a manhole that was not properly safeguarded. His employer was fined $82,000 in penalties for unsafe practices, but the company has denied her workers' compensation claim, leaving her with no compensation since the death. Rachel Aston Las Vegas Review-Journal @rookie__rae
Las Vegas family shares flu warning
Carlo and Brenda Occhipinti lost their son, Carlo Jr., or “Junior,” to the flu last year.
Author Randall Cannon shares an anecdote about Stadust Raceway
Author Randall Cannon shares an anecdote about Dan Blocker, who played Hoss Cartwright on the TV show "Bonanza," and the actor's passion for auto racing at Stardust International Raceway in Las Vegas during the 1960s. (Ron Kantowski/Las Vegas Review-Journal.)
Project Neon 85 percent complete
On Wednesday morning Oct. 31, Interstate 15 northbound lane restrictions were removed opening up Exit 41 to Charleston Blvd. On Thursday Nov. 1, Interstate 15 southbound lane restrictions were removed. The new southbound off-ramp to Sahara Ave. and Highland Dr. also opened Thursday, November 1. With Project Neon 85% finished the flow of traffic on Interstate 15 has substantially diminished. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Girl killed after jumping from bridge onto 215 Beltway in Henderson
Eastbound lanes of the 215 Beltway are shut down by the Nevada Highway Patrol after a female juvenile jumped from the 215 overpass at Stephanie and was struck by a FedEx tractor trailer. Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal @Vegas88s
Kristallnacht story
An interview with 94-year-old Holocaust survivor Alexander Kuechel who survived seven concentration camps and didn’t leave Germany until after World War II was over. (Mia Sims/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
1 dead in central Las Vegas crash
An early Wednesday morning crash left at least one person dead and another injured. The crash was reported just around 3 a.m. at the intersection of Flamingo Road and Swenson Street. At least two vehicles were involved in the crash, one of which caught fire. Debris was scattered across the intersection as police combed the area as they investigated the scene. Flamingo is blocked in both directions between Swenson and Cambridge Street. Northbound Swenson is blocked at the intersection.
Richard Knoeppel named the 2018 Nevada Teacher of the Year
Richard Knoeppel, an architecture design instructor at the Advanced technologies Academy, named the 2018 Nevada Teacher of the Year on Monday, Oct. 29, 2018. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye
Mojave Poppy Bees
(Zach Portman/University of Minnesota Department of Entomology) Male Mojave poppy bees exhibit territorial fighting behavior. The Center for Biological Diversity wants the bee, found only in Clark County, to be added to the endangered species list.
Clark County Schools announce random searches
Clark County School District middle and high school students will be subject to random searches for weapons under a new initiative to combat the wave of guns found on campus. (Amelia Pak-Harvey/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Ron Jeremy and Heidi Fleiss React to Dennis Hof's Death
Ron Jeremy and Heidi Fleiss speak about their friend and prominent brothel owner Dennis Hof's death at Dennis Hof's Love Ranch. (Benjamin Hager/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Nevada brothel owner Dennis Hof has died
Nevada brothel owner and Republican candidate for Nevada State Assembly District 36, Dennis Hof has died. He was 72. Nye County Sherriff's office confirmed. Hof owned Love Ranch brothel, located in Crystal, Nevada.
Las Vegas police investigate suspicious package at shopping center
Las Vegas police evacuated a southeast valley shopping center at Flamingo and Sandhill roads early Tuesday morning while they investigated reports of a suspicious package. (Max Michor/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
The Las Vegas Metro hosts the K-9 Trials
The Las Vegas Metro K-9 Trials returns to the Orleans Arena to benefit the Friends For Las Vegas Police K-9 group.
Kingman residents love their little town
Residents of Kingman, Ariz. talk about how they ended up living in the Route 66 town, and what they love about their quiet community. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Service at Southern Nevada Veterans Memorial Cemetery
Twelve unclaimed veterans are honored at Southern Nevada Veterans Memorial Cemetery in Boulder City in Oct. 9, 2018. (Briana Erickson/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas house prices reach highest level in 11 years
Las Vegas house prices are rising But so is the amount of available homes on the market Still, properties priced below $300,000 are selling fast And September was the first time since June 2007 that the median house price reached the $300,000 mark Las Vegas home prices have been rising at one of the fastest rates in the country over the past year Recent data show the market is now less affordable than the national average
National Night Out
About 100 Summerlin residents gathered at Park Centre Dr. in Summerlin on Tuesday for National Night Out. Lt. Joshua Bitsko with Las Vegas Metro, played with 3-year-old David who was dressed as a police officer. Face painting, fire truck tours and more kept kids busy as parents roamed behind them. (Mia Sims/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Rural homeless issue comes to a head in Pahrump
On Sept. 12, Pahrump sheriff deputies told residents of a homeless encampment on private property that they had 15 minutes to vacate and grab their belongings. That decision might face some legal consequences. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
TOP NEWS
News Headlines
ad-infeed_1
ads_infeed_2
Local Spotlight
Add Event
Home Front Page Footer Listing
Circular
You May Like

You May Like