Motorcyclist Shot by Deputy Is Taken From Hospital Into Custody

Dennis Mitchell Mueller leaves the hospital now that he's well enough to be in jail. He was the subject of an officer involved shooting in March.

The Rancho Santa Margarita man who was shot outside his home by a deputy with the Orange County Sheriff Dept., was taken into custody this week.

That announcement came from Lt. Brian Schmutz during an update at the City Council Meeting on Wednesday. The council, led by Mayor Tony Beall, had in the shooting, the first officer involved shooting in the city's history.

"My understanding is that the young man was transferred from the hospital to Sheriff's Department custody this week," Schmutz told the five council members at the beginning of the meeting.

Schmutz, the chief of police services for RSM, said the investigation by the Orange County District Attorney's office is continuing and will "probably involve months in terms of time spent to complete it." Not yet released by authorities is the number of total shots fired and the number of times 20-year-old Dennis Mueller was hit. Witnesses said there were multiple shots fired.

Mueller was shot at least once in the lower abdomen by Officer Manuel Cruz. 

The D.A.'s office on Thursday morning released additional information, indicating that Mueller ran through red lights and reached speeds of 100 mph.

The charges against Mueller have been revised from what was released previously; he has been cited for evading a police officer/reckless driving, resisting a police officer, and driving on a suspended license.

Evading a police officer is a felony, the others are misdemeanors.

If convicted, he faces a maximum sentence of three years in state prison. He is being held on $25,000 bail and is subject to a nobail probation violation hold. He is expected to be arraigned today.

and 10-year veteran of the OCSD, confronted Mueller in his Robinson Ranch cul-de-sac after Cruz recognized Mueller's Kawasaki traveling at a high rate of speed on Santa Margarita Parkway near Alma Aldea on March 10.

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Even though Cruz lost sight of the motorcycle, he had known Mueller and the vehicle's markings through previous contact and went to Meadow Park Lane where he lived.

According to the sheriff's blotter report of the sequence of events, Cruz saw Mueller's vehicle at 12:42 p.m., and shot Mueller at 12:57, about a minute after making contract. 

According to the OCSD, Cruz told Mueller not to move but instead toward a waistband while advancing on Cruz. This was corroborated by witnesses. It was then that Cruz, his gun drawn, fired.

Mueller has had no fewer than 15 run-ins with the law, beginning when he was 13 and cited for purchasing or being in possession of tobacco/paraphernalia.

The most serious offense was buying or receiving a stolen vehicle on Aug. 25, 2011 for which he pleaded guilty. He served 30 days in jail and was placed on three years' probation.

Mueller was also charged with being under the influence of a controlled substance on June 9, 2011, for which he has yet to be judged in court.

Many of Mueller's contacts with law enforcement came from his driving too fast for the conditions, which inevitably led to the discovery that he failed to have documentation with him such as registration and insurance. 

Over the previous year, since March 7, 2011, Mueller had been cited eight times—including the most recent—by three agencies, the Orange County Sheriff's Department, California Highway Patrol and Newport Beach Police Department.

Last December, he was charged with reckless driving, driving with a suspended license, and going faster than 100 mph.

The shooting was the second by the OCSD in just over a month; Marine Sgt. Manny Loggins was killed by Dep. Darren Sandberg on Feb. 7 in the early morning of Feb. 7 while Loggins' two children were in the backseat.

Schmutz said that he has extended an invitation to the community to speak to him about the shooting if they have any concerns, and that he had contact from one person.


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