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Deven Guilford's Family Files Federal Lawsuit against Sgt. Jonathan Frost, Eaton County for Shooting Dead Unarmed Teen at Traffic Stop

( [email protected] ) Oct 17, 2015 12:06 PM EDT
The family of slain teenager Deven Guilford has recently filed a federal lawsuit against Sgt. Jonathan Frost and the Eaton County local government. Guilford was fatally shot by the police officer during a traffic stop altercation in Western Michigan back in late February.
Jonathan Frost and Deven Guilford. WILX; Guilford family attorney

The family of slain teenager Deven Guilford has recently filed a federal lawsuit against Sgt. Jonathan Frost and the Eaton County local government. Guilford was fatally shot by the police officer during a traffic stop altercation in Western Michigan back in late February.

The complaint filed on Wednesday on behalf of 17-year-old Guilford claims that Eaton County Sheriff's Sgt. Frost's "entire course of action was illegal and in violation of Deven's constitutional rights, " according to the Detroit Free Press.

The incident took place on February 28, 2015, at around 8:30 p.m. Guilford was reportedly driving near Mulliken, Michigan when Frost drove by, heading to the opposite direction. The teenager flashed his headlights "apparently attempting to get him to dim his headlights," then Frost pulled him over. The family's lawsuit states that the officer was driving a new patrol car that had "improperly bright or misaimed headlights, even on low beams." Guilford is said to be one of three drivers to flash their brights at Frost, and the officer stopped all of them.

Michigan Shooting
Traffic stop: This bodycam footage shows Frost pointing his stun gun at Deven on the night of the shooting.

Guilford apparently asked for Frost's badge number and asked why he had been stopped. The officer refused to respond to Guilford's questions. On the other hand, Guilford also declined to show his license and other documents when the officer asked for them. The encounter reportedly escalated to a physical altercation resulting to Guilford's death.

In June, the county's Prosecutor's Office cleared Sgt. Frost of criminal wrongdoing after analysing the officer's body camera video along with a cellphone video from Guilford himself. The office mentioned that Frost "reasonably believed" the teenager posed a threat of "seriously bodily harm" or "death" and that the former had only acted in "self-defense."

In a statement given to the Lansing State Journal, Guildford's parents Brian and Becky said that "Based on what we know at this time, our family believes that our son should not have been killed on the night in question. 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."

Eaton County Sheriff
Eaton County prosecutors released this picture of Frost in the moments following the traffic stop in the rural central Michigan county. Eaton County

Meanwhile, Eaton County Sheriff Tom Reich also recently released a statement calling the incident "a tragedy for everyone involved."

"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," the sheriff mentioned. "The prosecutors conclusion was that the force used by Sgt. Frost was lawful... 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."

The incident garnered fresh attention following the release of a video (see below) by the Eaton County prosecutor which shows exactly how the encounter between Sgt. Jonathan Frost and Deven Guilford turned deadly.


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