AG won’t charge Lansing officers for death of inmate

Michigan

LANSING, Mich. (WLNS)— Friday Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel will hold a virtual news conference, to answer questions about her office’s investigation, into the in-custody deaths of 39-year-old Paul Bulthouse, and 54-year-old Anthony Scott Hulon.

The news conference is scheduled to begin at 11:30 A.M. and will be streamed in the video player above.

In a video released to the media above, Attorney General Dana Nessel says her office could not find the evidence to charge the officers in relation to the death of Anthony Scott Hulon. Her office did however issue charges Thursday in the death of Paul Bulthouse.

“The loss of human life is a tragedy,” said Nessel.  “It is the responsibility of my office to determine whether that loss was the result of an unfortunate set of circumstances or because of a criminal act.  While there is little the Department of Attorney General can do to provide comfort to the families of these two men, it is our duty and responsibility to perform a thorough investigation of each instance and pursue criminal charges, where appropriate.” 

ANTHONY SCOTT HULON

Hulon died on April 11th last year, while in the custody of Lansing Police Department.

According to the attorney general’s office, the video footage above shows Mr. Hulon was agitated throughout his interactions with officers.   

According to the investigation, the video shows officers working to restrain Mr. Hulon in his cell, but Mr. Hulon did not cooperate and fell to the floor, struggling with officers before going limp.  With a restraint in place, officers attempted to sit Mr. Hulon up but found him to be unresponsive and without a pulse.  Officers immediately administered life-saving measures, including CPR and the use of an automated external defibrillator (AED), in an attempt to revive him.  Emergency medical technicians (EMTs) were called and Mr. Hulon was transported to Sparrow Hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 2:12 AM on April 11, 2020. 

Michigan State Police conducted a complete and thorough investigation into Mr. Hulon’s death and submitted their findings to the Department of Attorney General for review and to determine what, if any, charges might be appropriate as a result of Mr. Hulon’s death.  Mr. Hulon’s autopsy revealed high levels of amphetamines and methamphetamines in his system at the time of his death.  According to the medical examiner, he also suffered from hypertensive and atherosclerotic disease, which contributed to his death.   

Assistant Attorneys General reviewed the Michigan State Police investigator report, all available Lansing Police Department police reports, the autopsy report and photographs, the medical records from Sparrow Hospital, a toxicology report, and over 40 hours of video. The Department of Attorney General found insufficient evidence to justify criminal charges against the officers involved.   

“The officers in this case did what they were supposed to do under the circumstances,” said Nessel.  “I realize that fact provides little comfort to Mr. Hulon’s family as they grieve the loss of their loved one.  Our job is to determine whether the officers’ actions constituted a criminal act, and we have found no evidence to support criminal charges.” 

Months after his death on October 26th., attorneys from Buckfire & Buckfire announced they’d filed a wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of the family.

 That lawsuit accuses the City of Lansing and the officers responsible for using quote “excessive force” and “permitting collusive statements by involved officers.”

Hulon was arrested for a domestic assault, he was transported to Sparrow Hospital where they found meth and ecstasy in his system. He was given drugs to calm down, and taken back to the Lansing City jail.

According to the court document, it’s alleged Hulon died after he was handcuffed behind his back and pinned on the ground by Lansing police officers in a jail cell after being transported back from Sparrow Hospital.

The suit names Officers Gary Worden, Charles Wright and Trevor Allman, who are accused of pinning Hulon to the ground on his stomach and chest, compressing his lungs and restricting his ability to breathe for over 5 minutes, while Hulon repeatedly said “I can’t breathe.”

Lansing Police Chief Daryl Green and Mayor Andy Schor issued the following statement regarding the announcement.

“This was an unfortunate incident, Lansing Police Department fully cooperated with Michigan State Police’s independent investigation and a detailed criminal review by the Michigan Attorney
General’s Office. The next step is an internal review to examine the officers’ actions and the
department’s procedures, equipment, and training systems regarding this incident”

Dayrl Green, Lansing Police Chief

“The Michigan Attorney General’s office has completed an independent and thorough investigation into this tragic situation. I appreciate the due diligence by Attorney General Dana Nessel and her staff. Now that they have determined there will be no criminal charges, the LPD will conduct an internal review into this incident. LPD will provide further updates when that review is complete.”

Andy Schor, Lansing Mayor

PAUL BULTHOUSE

Thursday the Michigan Attorney General’s Office filed manslaughter charges against five people for the death of a Paul Bulthouse, who died after suffering 17 seizures at the Muskegon County Jail.

Four jail staff members — Jeffrey Patterson, Crystal Greve, Jamall Lane and Sgt. David Vanderlaan — and nurse Aubrey Schotts were charged Thursday with involuntary manslaughter-failure to perform a legal duty in connection to the death of Paul Bulthouse.

The AG’s Office launched its inquiry into Bulthouse’s death in August 2019 following an investigation into the death by 6 News sister station WOOD-TV.

“After the first police sham investigation, I never thought anything would be done, so I’m at least pleased that somebody is taking it seriously,” Bulthouse’s father John Bulthouse said.

State prosecutors say the five defendants were on duty the night Paul Bulthouse, 39, suffered 17 seizures in a jail cell before dying on April 4, 2019.

According to a federal lawsuit filed by Bulthouse’s family, the three jail guards and Vanderlaan watched some of the seizures as they happened on video surveillance monitors at the guard’s station, which was just a few feet from Bulthouse’s cell, and did nothing about them. Jail surveillance video obtained by Target 8 shows Patterson watched one of the seizures through the cell door window before walking away.

“They were supposed to be monitoring him every 15 minutes or so and there were long periods — an hour or an hour and a quarter — where they never even looked at him, and when they saw him having seizures they did nothing, either,” John Bulthouse said. “It doesn’t give you a whole lot of confidence in the people in charge.”

Paul Bulthouse had been jailed 11 days before his death on a probation violation. Family members say the jail stopped giving him the Klonopin, a benzodiazepine, that he had been prescribed and didn’t properly ween him off it.

Muskegon County Sheriff Michael Poulin said in a Thursday release that his staff members have been “temporarily reassigned away from direct inmate supervision” pending the outcome of their criminal case, saying that “filing of charges is not proof of wrongdoing” and that “no evidence has been presented to the Sheriff’s Office by the Michigan Attorney General’s Office, or otherwise, that would permit our officer to make any determination of wrongdoing.”

The Muskegon County Sheriff’s Office previously said its initial internal investigation found no wrongdoing and Poulin added in his release that an independent probe by the Michigan Sheriff’s Association Mission Team “found that sheriff’s office staff acted appropriately in providing care and the performance of cell checks.”

<<<6 News sister station WOOD-TV in Grand Rapids contributed to this report.

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