The prosecutor in Eaton County, Michigan, called a press conference Tuesday morning to announce details of the shooting death of Deven Guildford by Sheriff’s Sergeant Jonathon Frost. The fatal shooting took place on February 28, during what should have been a routine traffic stop after Deven Guildford flashed his high beams at the officer.
What would have been a civil infraction turned deadly. The prosecutor’s office reviewed all evidence including a body cam. Police turned over the investigation into Deven Guildford’s death to the Eaton County Prosecutor on May 28, according to WILX. Prosecutor Doug Lloyd said that no charges will be pressed against the Sheriff’s sergeant who fatally shot the Eaton County teenager.
Though Deven Guildford was unarmed, Lloyd said that the Sheriff’s sergeant acted appropriately given the way the situation unraveled. Lloyd said that he reviewed the Michigan State Police investigation of the fatal incident and the video that was on Guilford’s phone. Lloyd said that the dashboard camera from Sgt. Frost’s patrol car was not available. Lloyd said that Frost shot the teenager only after a physical altercation occurred. During the press conference, Lloyd told the public the details of the shooting for the first time.
Officer body camera video shown at Eaton County Prosecutor news conference Tuesday. pic.twitter.com/5xQscf0tmg
— Rod Sanford (@rod_sanford) June 16, 2015
The prosecutor said that the teen flashed his high beams at the officer’s patrol car because the teen believed he was letting another vehicle know that their high beams were on. The Eaton County Sheriff’s sergeant was in a new vehicle which had brighter than normal lights. The teen was the third person to be pulled over that night for the same reason.
“Deven was the third person that the officer had pulled over that night for flashing brights at the officer, who was driving a brand new police vehicle with high-intensity head-lights.”
Once Guilford was pulled over, he refused to show Sgt. Frost his driver’s license, registration and insurance, even though Sgt. Frost repeatedly requested them. In the video recording, the teen is heard asking the officer how he knows for sure that he is even a real officer. The teen asked to see the officer’s badge number, but Sgt. Frost said, “You can not see my badge number.”
Refusing to provide a driver’s license when asked is a misdemeanor in Michigan that can result in an arrest. The officer then called for back up. Guilford announced that he was recording the incident with his phone for his own safety. Sgt. Frost said that that was fine. When the officer told Guilford to get out of the car, the teen refused. The officer tried to remove the young man from his car, but the 17-year-old was said to have reacted with physical violence towards the officer. The officer then told Guilford, “Out of the car, or you’re going to get Tased.”
Eventually Guilford got out of his vehicle and onto the ground. He eventually laid on his chest and extended one arm, but his other hand was holding his cell phone, still recording the incident. Guilford was told to put both hands behind his back, so that he could be handcuffed, but the teen didn’t comply. Sgt. Frost attempted to pull his hands back to be cuffed. After this, the teen got up and charged at Sgt. Frost.
During the altercation, the two reportedly ended up in a ditch and Guilford was on top of Sgt. Frost. The teen was reportedly punching the officer in the face repeatedly. Sgt. Frost said that he felt blood in his mouth and was worried that he would lose consciousness. He attempted to shoot the teen, but his first round wouldn’t fire. The Sheriff’s sergeant ejected the unfired round and ended up firing seven shots into the teen’s upper body.
The video below shows both Sgt. Frost and Deven Guilford’s videos side by side. Viewer’s discretion is advised.
Lloyd said that Deven Guilford was shot seven times at close range. The fatal shot from Guilford’s weapon was in the head, according to the Lansing State Journal. Sheriff’s Sgt. Frost had to receive medical attention from Sparrow Hospital in Lansing, Michigan, because of the injuries sustained after the teen reportedly assaulted him while Sgt. Frost was attempting to handcuff him.
The family released a statement.
“Based on what we know at this time, our family believes that our son should not have been killed on the night in question,” the family’s statement reads. “There was no reason or necessity for the officer to physically remove our son from the car without considering other options to avoid an unnecessary violent escalation. We also have serious concerns about whether the officer used unreasonable force against Deven under the circumstances.”
— FOX 47 News (@FOX47News) June 16, 2015
They also urge people to watch the videos of the night that Deven was shot by the Sheriff’s sergeant.
“Ultimately, we encourage those want more information about the encounter to view the full video of the traffic stop leading up to the physical altercation between Deven and the officer. This video is available through the Michigan State Police Department and the Eaton County Prosecutor’s office. We believe this video raises more questions than answers regarding whether Deven should be alive today.”
Guilford’s family’s attorney, Hugh Davis, said the family plans to file a civil lawsuit in federal court against the Sheriff’s sergeant. They say that the Eaton County Sheriff’s sergeant should have waited for back up before attempting to remove Deven Guilford from the vehicle that night.
[Featured Photo via Facebook]