Judge: Excessive Force Claims in Deven Guilford Lawsuit Can Proceed

KALAMAZOO – The federal lawsuit against an Eaton County sergeant for the death of a 17-year-old unarmed teen can proceed to a trial on two claims for excessive force, a judge ruled Friday.

Judge Paul Maloney heard oral arguments Tuesday from attorneys for the family of Deven Guilford and the attorney representing Sgt. Jonathan Frost. Frost’s attorney had previously filed a motion for summary judgment, asking Maloney to dismiss the case.

Maloney’s order issued Friday afternoon dismissed claims for unlawful stop, seizure, arrest, and excessive force prior to Frost’s decision to use his stun gun on Guilford. However, Maloney allowed two claims of excessive force to proceed, writing that “factual disputes” about what transpired after Frost fired his stun gun, and later, his service weapon, can be resolved by a jury.

Maloney detailed those “factual disputes” in his 38-page opinion and was pointed in his criticism, addressing what he described as inconsistencies between Frost’s account and the evidence. He added that a jury could find that some of what Frost says occurred was “almost inconceivable.”

James Dyer, Frost’s attorney, said he has tremendous respect for Maloney but disagrees with his characterization of some of the facts in the case. He added that he wasn’t in a position to comment on whether he would appeal.

An appeal of Maloney’s decision would be heard by the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati, Ohio.

In his opinion, Maloney wrote that, “Since what happened in the ditch is subject to vociferous dispute, the Court does not see any good-faith basis for an appeal on this claim because purely factual disputes preclude summary judgment.”

Cynthia Heenan, an attorney for the Guilford family, said Friday that she’s “pleased” with Maloney’s ruling.

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Filming Cops
Filming Cops 3181 posts

Filming Cops was started in 2010 as a conglomerative blogging service documenting police abuse. The aim isn’t to demonize the natural concept of security provision as such, but to highlight specific cases of State-monopolized police brutality that are otherwise ignored by traditional media outlets.

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