LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) — Two police officers who were arresting a suspect, who suffered a heart attack and died five days later, will not face criminal charges
Jackson County Prosecutor Jerard M. Jarzynka shared his decision to clear Columbia Township police officers Jacob Mills and Spencer Bennett of criminal culpability for their use of force during the May 13 arrest of Philip Dawson. His decision was based on an investigation into the incident by Michigan State Police.
Jarzynka said he reviewed MSP’s investigative report into the actions of Mills and Bennett, who arrested Dawson on May 13 in front of a residence in Clark Lake.
According to the review, Mills and Bennett went to execute a search warrant on a car owned by Dawson at around 9 p.m.
On the day before, both officers investigated Dawson in a domestic violence incident where he was the suspect and ended up being arrested. During that time, they discovered Dawson’s driver’s license was suspended/revoked.
Having prior knowledge that Dawson’s license was suspended/revoked and having seen Dawson driving, they arrived at 2936 Russell Court, Clark Lake, and saw Dawson drive up in the car.
The officers got out of their patrol car and arrested Dawson. The MSP investigation found Dawson was verbally and physically resisted. After further resistance, the officers put Dawson on his stomach and eventually handcuffed him behind his bank.
Once in cuffs, Dawson began struggling less, Officers discovered he had no pulse and called for an ambulance. Emergency personnel took Dawson to a hospital, where he was placed on life support. He died on May 18.
The letter from Jarzynka said that videos of the arrest taken by citizens did not show the officers using excessive force, being on top of the suspect, or any punching or kicking. The officers’ body cameras fell off the front of their uniforms and were only able to capture sound.
A later autopsy showed Dawson suffered cardiac arrest because of hypertensive and arteriosclerotic cardiovascular disease, with stress during his arrest contributing, Jarzynka’s letter says.
“Given the evidence found in this investigation, it is my opinion that the use of force used in this incident would certainly not rise to the level necessary to render criminal charges against the police officers,” Jarzynka said.