LANSING - The Nov. 28 killing of a Charlotte-area man by police officers attempting to arrest him was justified because the officers' lives were in danger, prosecutors said Tuesday.
An Eaton County Sheriff's Office detective and a deputy were attempting to arrest 64-year-old Robert Smith when Smith — who had a blood-alcohol content of 0.19 and marijuana and antidepressants in his system — tried to run them over with his pickup truck, according to a news release from Ingham County Prosecutor Carol Siemon.
Smith turned his truck around to face the officers, ignored their commands to stop and told them to shoot him, Siemon said. He then backed up his truck and sped toward the officers, striking the patrol car and causing it to hit the detective's unmarked vehicle, she said.
That impact knocked the detective to the ground, injuring him, according to the prosecutor's release.
The officers, whom Eaton County Sheriff Tom Reich has not named, each fired eight shots, and one of those bullets struck Smith in the head, killing him. Both officers were outside of their vehicles when they fired their weapons, Siemon said in a phone interview.
"Based on a review of the police reports and the body camera footage, we find that there was no other reasonable means to avert the threat of Mr. Smith and his vehicle," Siemon said in the news release. "As such, no criminal charges will be pursued" against the officers.
Siemon's office handled the case as a special prosecutor after the Eaton County Prosecutor's Office recused itself to avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest. Michigan State Police investigated the shooting.
Siemon said her office began its review in late January. The officers involved in the shooting followed protocol carefully, she said.
"It's always tragic when somebody dies in this kind of situation," Siemon said in a phone interview. "(But) I think the deputies were very well prepared, and when you have a combination of alcohol and weapons, bad things can happen."
State police said body cam and dash cam footage of the incident was turned over to prosecutors. Siemon declined to release that footage Tuesday evening. The State Journal has filed a public records request for the footage.
Reich could not be immediately be reached for comment.
The Eaton County officers had gone to Smith's home on East Spicerville Highway in Brookfield Township to arrest him and search his home for firearms.
Two days before the shooting, Smith was arrested for driving while intoxicated by Michigan Department of Natural Resources officers, who found a gun on him. Smith was not allowed to possess firearms because he was a convicted felon. Court records indicate that Smith pleaded guilty to drug charges in Eaton County in 2011.
Smith told the DNR officers he "would not be afraid to commit gun violence, and that he had nothing to lose," according to the news release. State police have said previously Smith did not have a gun when he was shot.
The incident is the third fatal shooting by Eaton County officers since 2015.
In February of 2015 Eaton County Sheriff's Office Sgt. Jonathan Frost shot and killed 17-year-old Deven Guilford, who was unarmed, during a traffic stop in Roxand Township.
Eaton County Prosecutor Doug Lloyd ruled the shooting justified after an investigation by state police. A federal lawsuit by Guilford's family against Frost was settled by the county's insurer in December for $2.4 million.
Matthew Lundy, 32, of Charlotte, was shot and killed that same month by deputies who responded to a call that a sport-utility vehicle was stuck in a snow bank along Canfield Road in Eaton Rapids Township and encountered Lundy, who was armed. Lloyd ruled that shooting justified after a State Police investigation.
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