EATON COUNTY, Mich. — Eaton County prosecutors announced Tuesday that they have declined to charge a sheriff’s sergeant for shooting and killing an unarmed 17-year-old during a routine traffic stop.
17-year-old Deven Guilford was pulled over by Sgt. Jonathan Frost for allegedly flashing his headlights. Apparently believing he was not required to show identification, Guilford recorded the encounter and refused to furnish his identification. The police officer forced Guilford from his car and gave the teenager electric shocks from his Taser. Both video recordings become unclear after this point, as Sgt. Frost kicks Guilford’s phone away and proceeds to shoot the teen seven times.
Prosecuting Attorney Doug Lloyd reviewed the investigation into the boy’s death, which included video from Sgt. Frost’s body camera, as well as video captured by Guilford’s phone. The prosecutor said he believes there is no reasonable suspicion that a crime was committed.
“No one wins in these particular situations, but it’s the prosecutor’s responsibility to look at the facts, make a determination from the facts. Was there a crime or was there not a crime?” he said.
Lloyd claims Guilford jumped up after being tased, climbed on top of Frost, and hit him in the face. There is no video that shows this, however, as the Guilford’s camera was kicked away from him before he was tased, and Sgt. Frost’s body camera went black. Police also claim Sgt. Frost’s vehicle did not have a working dashboard camera due to problems with its software.
Sgt. Frost said he feared Guilford was going to reach for his gun, so he drew it and attempted to fire. When the gun malfunctioned, Frost says he manually cleared a round from his gun then proceeded to shoot Guilford seven times.
Lloyd’s decision not to prosecute Sgt. Frost effectively clears the sergeant of any criminal wrongdoing.
Frost checked himself into a hospital to treat injuries he alleges Guilford gave him. X-ray scans showed no fractures of any kind, and Frost was released the following morning.
Guilford’s family hired attorney Hugh Davis, who says the family plans to file a civil lawsuit against Frost after he reviews evidence collected during the investigation.
Davis says the Guilford family believes Frost’s decision to remove Deven from his car before more officers arrived was “unreasonable.”
“The family is very unhappy. It’s just very hard to go from dimming lights or not dimming lights to being dead,” Davis said.
“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,” the family said in statement. “It must be also noted that Deven was not in possession (of) any weapon and emphatically told the officer that he was not armed.”
Frost was given paid administrative leave during the incident, and is soon expected to return to his job.
A video of the incident captured by Sgt. Frost’s body camera video is available below: