Friday, March 25, 2011

MI: Patrol car video prompts prosecutors to review shooting involving Pittsfield Township police officer

Another trigger-happy dickless Tracy. Females are too nervous to be safe with a gun in a police environment

Washtenaw County prosecutors said Monday they're reviewing their decision to clear a Pittsfield Township police officer of criminal wrongdoing in the January shooting of an unarmed man. The review comes after prosecutors received a video of the shooting township police said was not previously available because of technical problems.

That video, obtained by under the Freedom of Information Act, shows Officer Tracy Yurkunas shooting domestic violence suspect Devin Reddick once in the abdomen about 5 p.m. Jan. 15 in a parking lot at the Rosewood Village condominium complex off Primrose Lane.

Yurkunas shot Reddick shortly after he got out of a car and turned to face her, the video shows. Immediately after the shot was fired, a male officer yelled, "Put your hands up." Yurkunas told another officer at the scene Reddick had been reaching for something.

Reddick was treated at an area hospital after the shooting and later charged with domestic violence.

Washtenaw County Chief Deputy Assistant Prosecutor Steve Hiller told on Monday that he has watched the video, and prosecutors will re-examine their decision based on the video and other materials they expect to receive from Michigan State Police, who handled the investigation into the shooting. He declined to be more specific about what other evidence may be turned over.

The video was shot from a patrol car that was stopped behind Yurkunas' patrol car. Hiller said he didn't learn the video existed until Pittsfield Township police chief Matt Harshberger told him about it March 10. Hiller said he received a copy the next day.

Prosecutors had already ruled in February that Yurkunas acted in self-defense, and reported those findings on March 2, which is the same day filed a public information request. “We are certainly going to re-examine the original decision,” Hiller said.

State police Sgt. Dale Smith, who investigated the case, said Monday that he was aware of the video, but hadn't been told that prosecutors were taking another look at the case. He said he doesn't expect the video to change anything. "As far as we're concerned, the investigation is done," he said. "We turned it over and our findings have not changed."

An internal investigation is on hold pending the latest review by prosecutors, Harshberger said. Yurkunas has been back at work since late February on desk duty after being placed on paid administrative leave, which is routine in such an incident, Harshberger said.

Harshberger said Pittsfield Township police were unaware the video was available until March 10, after an official at L-3 Communications was able to retrieve it. The recording system had previously shown an error message to police. “It’s new technology for us,” Harshberger said. “So we’re still working out the kinks.”

The shooting

The shooting occurred after Reddick parked and got out of the driver's side door of a car, records show. Police say they were conducting a traffic stop, and the video shows Yurkunas' car lights were flashing. In his arraignment, Reddick disputed that he was being pulled over.

The video shows Yurkunas get out of her patrol car and draw her gun as she stands behind the driver's side door of her car.
On the video, Reddick gets out of his car, faces her, and is then shot and falls in the snow. Immediately after Yurkunas shoots Reddick, a male police officer can be heard yelling, "Put your hands up."

According to a report by officer Shawn Willmuth, Yurkunas said at the scene the man was reaching for something. Police said in a news release after the shooting that the suspect "made what the officer perceived to be a life-threatening action." Willmuth also wrote in his report that he found Reddick was holding a cell phone after the shooting. He said a pat-down search determined Reddick did not have a weapon.

Willmuth stated in his report officer Dennis Marra said Reddick had been combative during an arrest attempt in 2010 and that information was relayed to Yurkunas during the pursuit.

A domestic assault

Officers were looking for Reddick after a woman he knows called 911 at 3:57 p.m., reporting Reddick had assaulted her at an Arbor Circle East apartment. She said Reddick left in her car and might have headed to his brother's home in Pittsfield Township, 911 recordings show. She said she didn't think he had any weapons, but his brother had a registered gun. She added she didn't think his brother would let him have the gun.

According to reports, the woman was assaulted after Reddick asked her to pay a bill, but she declined. He broke her computer, police reports say, grabbed her by the neck and pushed her to the ground. He kicked and punched her, leaving her with bruises to her face, her arm and her shoulder, police reports say. She also complained of pain in her abdomen, but did not require medical attention.

Reddick, 30, of Pittsfield Township, was charged three days later with domestic violence, operating with a suspended license and refusing to be fingerprinted, all of which are misdemeanors. He was not charged with resisting and obstructing police.

Washtenaw County Assistant Public Defender Ronald Brown, who is representing Reddick, could not be reached for comment Monday. Neither Reddick nor the woman who said she was assaulted could be reached for comment.

Reddick was treated at an area hospital after the shooting and later taken to the Washtenaw County Jail, where he had an outburst at his arraignment. He was held without bond, but later released on a $1,000 bond after the arraignment was completed on another day.

Original report here

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