A man described as verbally assaultive and out of control reportedly accosted Mono County Judge Stan Eller in the Rite-Aid store in Mammoth Lakes. After a very tense encounter with the suspect, police safely arrested him and took him to jail.
Mammoth Police Lt. Jim Short said that Judge Eller was approached by a man named Michael Phelps. The Lieutenant said the man was “somewhat rambling and yelling.” Phelps reportedly never appeared before Judge Eller nor was involved in any case handled by the Judge.
Lt. Short said Mammoth Police received a call. He responded to Rite Aid and found Phelps “rambling incoherently and visibly angered.” Lt. Short said the man had a hammer in his pocket and began to wave it around, yelling, “Go ahead, shoot me.” By then, three other Mammoth Police officers had quickly responded to the explosive scene.
In a very measured effort to avoid a shooting, particularly in a public place, police used restraint. Lt. Short said Phelps finally threw down his hammer but refused to cooperate with police. Officers tried to deploy a taser gun, but it malfunctioned.
As a last resort, Lt. Short, who stood to the side of the suspect, tackled him to the ground and placed him under arrest.
Short said he was very proud of how well the officers handled the potentially very violent situation. Phelps was booked at the jail in Bridgeport on assault on a police officer. Other charges, particularly those involved with the encounter with Judge Eller, are pending.