Eaton Co. Sheriff’s Office releases statement following Guilford lawsuit

EATON COUNTY, MI (WLNS) – Earlier this week the family of Devon Guilford filed a lawsuit against the Eaton County Sheriff’s Office and Sgt. Jonathan Frost.

Guilford was shot and killed during a traffic stop back on February 28.

Back in August the Eaton County Sheriff’s Office released the results of their investigation, saying Sgt. Frost acted in compliance to regulations when he shot and killed the 17-year-old.

In June the Eaton County prosecutor decided not to charge Sgt. Frost.

They reached this decision after watching police dash-cam video, showing both men getting into a physical fight, following a traffic stop.

Prosecutors said they had enough support from the footage, to believe and claim Sgt. Frost acted in self-defense.

The attorney for the family says Sgt. Frost used excessive force when he made Guilford lay on the ground and used a taser.

The attorney and the county prosecutor disagree about whether Guilford acted illegally when he flashed his high-beams at Sgt. Frost’s car. Guilford was less than 500 feet way at the time, which was the initial reason Sgt. Frost pulled him over.

On Friday Eaton County Sheriff Tom Reich released a statement responding to the lawsuit.

He says he ordered an independent investigation after the incident.

Full statement from Sheriff Reich:

”This incident is a tragedy for everyone involved, certainly for the Guilford family, but also for Jon Frost and all the men and women of the Eaton County Sheriff’s Office and the entire Eaton County community. The last thing that Sgt. Frost or any law enforcement officer wants to do is to be put into a position where he is compelled to use his firearm to defend his life. But when that occurs, it is understandable and reasonable that a decision to use a firearm will be challenged and scrutinized by many sources.

On the night of the incident, I ordered that this incident be investigated by an independent law enforcement agency, in this case, the Michigan State Police. Upon its completion that investigation was reviewed by the Eaton County Prosecutor. The Prosecutors conclusion was that the force used by Sgt. Frost was lawful, based upon his honest and reasonable belief that he faced a serious and imminent threat of great bodily harm or death. My office conducted an internal review, which determined that Sgt. Frost had not violated Eaton County Sheriff’s office regulations, general orders and his training. I stand by both of those determinations.

One of my top priorities as Eaton County Sheriff is to always evaluate and improve the services that my office delivers to the public. As a result of this incident, we have reviewed the training provided officers in the use of the Taser, given increased emphasis to defensive tactics training, reviewed and continued training regarding the positioning of vehicles during high risk traffic stops, and reviewed and continued to emphasize training concerning officer communications with the citizens they encounter to increase the instances of voluntary cooperation following a decision to make an arrest.”

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