By Pat Maurer
The controversy is still raging over the alleged abuse of a man arrested by the Sheriff’s Department in July.
In a letter to the editor last week, Jerami Young claimed he was tasered repeatedly, arrested without cause and refused medical treatment by Clare deputies, who came to his home July 31, demanding he “come outside,” without a warrant. He said he felt his 4th Amendment rights had been violated by the officers.
During the incident Young was arrested and charged with resisting arrest and later with assaulting an officer in the jail. He said he was tasered multiple times during the arrest and again at the jail and refused medical treatment after being tasered.
A portion of a video documenting the incident has been posted on Facebook, and the audio portion of the initial contact confirms the officer demanding Young come outside, without telling him why, while another segment shows four Sheriff’s Deputies going into a jail cell and subduing Young for allegedly assaulting an officer. The video does not show the alleged assault of the officer by Young, but does show the officers entering Young’s cell and forcing him down on the floor. It isn’t clear whether Young was tasered again at that time, although he claims he was tasered in the face while in the cell.
Clare County Sheriff John Wilson said, “As I said before, no one has filed a complaint with me on this incident. I did watch the video on the internet and only a fraction of the entire incident is shown. At this point we will not comment any further on the incident because of the possibility of a law suit or further investigation.” Wilson did say he felt the video was edited to make the officers look bad.
Editor’s note: The Review was notified Wednesday evening that Young had just filed a complaint with the Sheriff about the incident.
Young said the incident happened because of a “misconstrued” conversation with a neighbor, a man diagnosed with dementia, who he had talked to about a job.
According to information from Clare County Prosecutor Michelle Ambrozaitis, Young was actually sought after a complaint was received on July 30 that he had violated his bond by contacting a victim of an earlier incident of domestic violence. He had been released on a Personal Recognizance bond July 25 after entering a plea to a domestic violence charge from June 8. Bond conditions were that he have no contact with the victim.
Another complaint against Young was received July 31, the prosecutor’s information said, when an individual called police and reported that Young was intoxicated and at his home demanding money from him….ultimately he was arrested for the bond violation and in the process resisted arrest and assaulted a corrections officer when he was proceeding through the booking process, the prosecutor’s report said.
Young’s attorney Todd Diederich said, “They can say they were arresting Mr. young for a bond violation all day long, the bottom line is that they did not even know who they were forcing out of the home at gun point [taser point] without a warrant (search or arrest warrant). Mr. Young was charged with no crime that had allegedly occurred prior to being forced from his home …the officer never explained why he wanted Mr. Young to come out of his home, he walked up to an open window and demanded that Mr. Young come out…he threatened to shoot Mr. Young with a taser if he did not come out.”
Diederich added, “They had Mr. Young outside of his home by threat of being tasered for almost 40 minutes before they started to even ask about an alleged bond violation. The full length video will illustrate this very clearly.”
Diederich said an “edited” video, a version of what happened, was provided to his office by the Prosecutor’s office. “…we received only what the prosecutor gave us…it starts where they wanted it to start, so even though I requested any and all video, they only sent us what they wanted to. They claimed nothing more was available and had been erased.” He urged anyone interested to request the entire video through a Freedom of Information Request.
The prosecutor’s information said Young was arraigned August 1 on two counts of resist and obstruct as a habitual offender 2nd offense in connection with the July 31 incident.
On August 8 he was also arraigned on charges of assaulting a prison employee as a habitual offender 2nd offense in connection with the July 31 incident.
He had been released on a Personal Recognizance bond with a no-contact with the victim order on July 25, after he entered a plea to June 8 Domestic Violence charges.
On August 6 Young was sentenced in District Court for the Domestic Violence conviction from June 8. He was sentenced to 93 days in jail with credit for 55 days already served and 38 left to serve.
A preliminary examination on both the August 1 and August 8 arraignment charges was held September 19, resulting in an adjournment. The preliminary continued October 3, resulting in both cases being dismissed without prejudice. (Without prejudice means that the cases could be brought again with additional evidence.)
Before the preliminary exam was held, Diederich said Chief Assistant Prosecutor Gary Coning had offered to dismiss two of the two-year felony charges if Young would plead guilty to the five-year felony assault charge. Diederich said Young instead asked for “his day in court.”
Ambrozaitis said, “A police report provides the basic outline of the events that occurred, containing not only the officer’s observations but witness statements as well. It is on these police reports that the Prosecutor’s Office makes charging decisions. If felony charges are authorized, then the accused has a right to a preliminary examination. A preliminary examination is a probable cause hearing where the Court will hear testimony and determine if there is probable cause to believe that a crime was committed and that it was most likely the accused who committed the crime. It is not uncommon for information previously unknown to come to light during these types of hearings. Ultimately, the Court made the decision to dismiss the cases against Young. These felony cases progressed through the system pursuant to the time frames set forth in the law and while the Defendant was serving a sentence on a separate conviction.”
Ambrozaitis said her office has no plans to appeal the court’s decision to dismiss the resisting arrest and assault charges.
Diederich said, “I want to make it clear that the prosecutor had the opportunity to present her case to Judge [Josh] Ferrell, just like I presented Mr. Young’s case. Based on all of the evidence Judge Ferrell heard from both sides, he dismissed all charges against Mr. Young in this case.”
He continued, “Police simply cannot go up to houses, point weapons at citizens and force them from their homes without warrants in the country. Mr. Young spent 65 days in jail for a crime he did not commit, all thanks to the Clare County Prosecutor’s office.”
Young said last week that he is looking into a lawsuit against the County and the Clare County Sheriff’s Department, but hasn’t selected an attorney to represent him yet.