Eaton County prosecuting attorney rules deputy’s use of deadly force justified in July shooting

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Eaton County, Mich. (WLNS) — Eaton County Prosecuting Attorney Christopher Anderson ruled an Eaton County Sheriff’s Officer’s use of deadly force in a July shooting was justified.

The prosecuting attorney ruled thatEaton County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Vandorpe acted in a legal manner based on Fourth Amendment principles and Michigan state police laws regarding use of force.

According to the Fourth Amendment, a police officer must have an articulable, reasonable suspicion that a vehicle, or an occupant of the vehicle, is subject to seizure in order to conduct a traffic stop. An individual is subject to seizure when the officer has probable cause to conclude that the individual is committing a crime or has committed a crime for which a warrantless arrest is permissible. Under MCL 764.15, a police officer may make a warrantless arrest of an individual when the office has probable cause to believe that the individual has committed a crime that is punishable by 93 days in jail or more.

In the State of Michigan the police may use force, including deadly force, in the performance of their job. They may use that degree of force that is reasonable under the circumstances to effectuate an arrest. They may take reasonable action to protect themselves in the course of making an arrest.

Details of the shooting

On July 14, 2020, at 6:48 a.m., Michigan State Police troopers were dispatched to the Quality Dairy, located at 7120 Lansing Rd in Diamondale, for a stabbing. Troopers were advised that a customer of the store had been stabbed by another customer, and that the perpetrator had fled the scene. Troopers arrived and located the stabbing victim, 77-year-old John Duncan, with multiple puncture wounds to the neck.

Troopers then gained access to the store’s security system, spoke with employees and were told a physical description of the perpetrator and a license plate number for his vehicle.

From that information, troopers were able to identify the suspect in the stabbing as 37-year-old Sean Ruis, and his vehicle as a 2016 Ford Fusion. They further learned that Ruis lived at an address on Jerryson Drive in Delta Township. At 6:55 a.m., MSP broadcast the license plate number for Ruis’ car over Eaton County’s primary police radio frequency. Troopers and Deputy Vandorpe made contact with Ruis’ wife at the residence on Jerryson and were told that he had left for work at the Michigan Department of Transportation around 6:30 a.m..

As the Troopers traveled towards the MDOT facility on Canal Rd, Deputy Vandorpe remained near Ruis’ house. At 7:11 a.m., Deputy Vandorpe observed Ruis’ Ford Fusion approaching his residence and began to follow it.

She reported to Eaton County Central Dispatch that the vehicle had driven past the residence. Deputy Vandorpe activated her lights and siren, and the vehicle briefly accelerated before coming to a stop at 7:12 a.m.

A review of the body-camera and dash-camera footage from Deputy Vandorpe showed the following:

After stopping his vehicle, Ruis quickly exited his vehicle with objects visible in both hands. The objects were later found to be a long flathead screwdriver in his left hand and a shorter flathead screwdriver along with a non-folding knife in his right hand.

Ruis began walking towards Vandorpe, who exited her patrol vehicle and drew her service weapon. Vandorpe immediately began to give Ruis commands to show his hands and drop what he is holding, as Ruis advanced towards her. Vandorpe told Ruis to drop the weapons more than a dozen times, as he continued to advance on her.

Ruis told Vandorpe to drop her weapon as he continued to approach her patrol vehicle. Ruis continued to advance on Vandorpe with objects in both hands. He then lunged at Vandorpe and began to slash at her with the screwdriver in his left hand. Vandorpe, who was backpedaling at the time, began firing her service weapon, firing an initial burst of 5 shots.

Ruis continued to advance towards Vandorpe, reaching out and making contact with her service weapon. The contact caused the weapon to jam. Vandorpe cleared the jam while continuing to backpedal and the screwdrivers and knife that Ruis was holding fell to the ground. Ruis then bent over and retrieved the knife from the roadway. Vandorpe fired 5 more shots in rapid succession.

Detectives from the Michigan State Police Critical Incident Team conducted the investigation of the incident. During the course of that investigation, MSP conducted numerous interviews and canvassed the neighborhood for witnesses and surveillance video. They were able to locate relevant surveillance video from four residences and interviewed one individual who observed Ruis approaching his residence and then accelerating after passing Deputy Vandorpe’s patrol vehicle.

Ruis fell to the ground and Vandorpe advised Eaton County Central Dispatch that shots had been fired and requested EMS. MSP Troopers arrived on scene a little over a minute later.

Dr. Patrick Hansma conducted a Forensic Postmortem Examination on Sean Ruis on July 15, 2020. Dr. Hansma is a deputy medical examiner for Eaton County and is employed by Sparrow Hospital. During the examination, Dr. Hansma identified eight gunshot wounds to Ruis body. Those wounds were found on Ruis’ forehead, both shoulders, torso, abdomen, groin, and left knee. Further, organ damage was found to Ruis’ heart, right lung, liver, and right kidney.

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