Michigan Family Files Federal Lawsuit In Death Of Deven Guilford, Could Cost County Millions

| by Nicholas Roberts
Deven Guilford's Facebook PageDeven Guilford's Facebook Page

The family of a 17-year-old boy who was shot and killed by a sergeant from Michigan's Eaton County Sheriff's Office in February has filed a federal lawsuit against the county and the officer, according to Detroit Free Press.

In June, Eaton County Prosecutor Doug Lloyd cleared Sgt. Jonathan Frost of criminal wrongdoing. Frost shot teenager Deven Guilford seven times during an alleged altercation that happened during a traffic stop. Guilford had reportedly flashed his beams at the sergeant's car, which led to the traffic stop.

According to Lloyd, Guilford refused to hand his driver's license, registration and proof of insurance over to Frost during the traffic stop. Frost then tried to pull Guilford out of the car, at which point Guilford refused to put his hands behind his back as Frost attempted to put handcuffs on him.

This led to an altercation in which Frost shot Guilford with a stun gun, which wasn't fully effective. The fight ended in a snow-filled ditch, with Frost shooting Guilford seven times.

Guilford had reportedly been heading home from a church basketball game, according to The Daily Mail.

The lawsuit against Frost and the county alleges that Frost's "entire course of action was illegal and in violation of Deven's constitutional rights." It does not seek specific monetary damages but asks for a jury trial.

"Deven's tragic and totally unnecessary death represents a disturbing trend of demanding 100 percent compliance with police authority, coupled with zero tolerance of risk of harm to police officers," said Cynthia Heenan of Constitutional Litigation Associates P.C., the law firm representing the Guilfords.

An internal investigation of the shooting, made in August, determined the sergeant followed Eaton County Sheriff’s Office “regulations, general orders and training.”

Attorney Julie Hurwitz, whose firm Goodman & Hurwitz P.C. represents victims of police misconduct, said the lawsuit could potentially cost the county hundreds of thousands of dollars even if it never sees a courtroom, according to the Lansing State Journal. If the case ends up going to trial and the jury sides with the family, that number could become millions.

"The family would be entitled to recover all of their attorney fees and it's up to the court's discretion to determine what those costs are, but they could be anywhere from $500,000 to $2 million," Hurwitz said.

Sources: Detroit Free Press, Lansing State JournalDaily Mail / Photo credit: Facebook