Widow Sues Portage Police Officer Who Killed Her Husband

The widow of a man killed in April during a traffic stop in Portage is suing the police officer cleared in the incident, federal court records show.

William Spates, 39, was shot by Portage officer Grant Crizer, 34, April 22 in the 5200 block of Royal Avenue, police said.

In May, Porter County Prosecutor Brian Gensel announced that Crizer “responded appropriately to the situation” and acted out of “self-defense.”

Marina Spates, through her attorney, Robert Montgomery, argued in a complaint filed Tuesday in Hammond federal court, though, that “unreasonable and unjustifiable excessive force” was used in the death of her husband.

While there is no body camera or dashcam footage of the incident, 911 calls and dispatch recordings obtained through a public records request by the Post-Tribune capture the aftermath of the shooting.

“I just heard a bunch of gunshots going pop, pop, pop, pop, pop,” a 911 caller told a dispatcher at 1:53 a.m. in a recording.

Marina Spates declined comment Wednesday and calls made to phone numbers listed for Crizer Wednesday were not immediately returned.

Chief Troy Williams said in a statement Wednesday that “our officer was cleared of any wrongdoing.”

“We fully support our officer who responded appropriately to the threat against him,” Williams said.

Crizer stopped Spates at 1:47 a.m. April 22 “for disregarding a stop sign at Brown Street and Mulberry Avenue,” Gensel said. Spates pulled into a driveway on Royal Avenue “and appeared very emotional, indicating that he ‘messed up’ and didn’t want to go back to jail,” according to Gensel.

Crizer asked Spates to exit the car several times and used his stun gun, hitting Spates in the arm, officials said. Spates put the vehicle in reverse and rammed Crizer’s vehicle parked behind him in an attempt to push it out of the way, according to Gensel.

Crizer went to the front of the vehicle with his weapon drawn and continued to order Spates to comply, and “at that point, Crizer observed Spates reach for the gear shift, believing that Spates intended to put the vehicle in forward and hit him,” the release states.

Crizer “fired eight shots through the windshield and passenger window,” according to the prosecutor. Spates was shot multiple times in the torso and head, according to the Porter County coroner.

“I was just woken up to a vehicle in the driveway and officers unloading, uh, discharging their firearms,” a 911 caller said in a recording.

In a dispatch at 1:52 a.m., a man is heard yelling “shots fired” and that someone “attempted to run me over,” according to a recording.

“I need medics!” the man said.

An officer tells ambulances to “step it up” with a “subject down,” according to the recordings.

“We’ve got the subject in custody. He’s still breathing,” a person tells dispatch in a recording at 1:55 a.m.

The federal complaint filed against Crizer this week claims “Spates was alone in the vehicle and unarmed.” Crizer parked his squad car behind Spates’ vehicle “at the foot of the driveway, thereby blocking Spates from exiting the driveway,” the complaint states.

After first using the stun gun on Spates, Crizer “then un-holstered his firearm, and without justification or cause, shot and killed Spates as as he sat unarmed in the driver’s seat of his vehicle,” according to the document.

“At no time during the traffic stop” did Spates “cause his vehicle to move in the direction of Crizer,” according to the complaint.

Crizer “was able to see Spates’ hands, knew that Spates was unarmed and did not pose an imminent threat of death or great bodily harm to Crizer,” the complaint claims.

Crizer was put on administrative leave after the shooting, but he returned to work by May after the Portage Police Department Shooting Review Board found the shooting was “justified,” according to Williams.

The shooting occurred around the corner from Spates’ family’s home on Brown Street and just hours after Spates was released from the Porter County Jail on April 21.

Spates was previously arrested April 19 “for domestic battery and strangulation charges involving family members,” according to Gensel, had he had a no-contact order with his wife and children and he was also prohibited from the area of the family home.

Source: http://www.chicagotribune.com/suburbs/post-tribune/news/ct-ptb-portage-officer-involved-shooting-lawsuit-st-0104-20180103-story.html

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Filming Cops
Filming Cops 5621 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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