Mich. AG says Washtenaw County deputy's actions appropriate in punching of Black woman

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel announced multiple felony charges would be filed in three separate police misconduct investigations but ruled a Washtenaw County deputy acted appropriately when he punched a Black woman during an arrest in May.

Nessel announced the results of her office's investigation into three different misconduct cases in Saginaw, Washtenaw, and Jackson Counties involving two police officers and two residents. As a result, two police officers have been charged with misconduct in separate incidents involving allegations of excessive force and an illegal search. 

Former Saginaw Officer Adam Collier is accused of striking a handcuffed woman with his fist while she was handcuffed for an alleged assault in July. She had resisted and spat at the officer. 

In Jackson County, Blackman-Leoni Township Officer David Lubahn is accused of searching a gun safe without a warrant last October and then presenting false information to get a warrant. 

In the third case, in Washtenaw County, no charges will be pursued against a deputy who punched a woman who was biting him as he was investigating a shooting in Ypsilanti.

Nessel determined Washtenaw County deputy Austin Pearson's actions were necessary.

During the arrest of the suspect, Shatina Grady allegedly bit Pearson on the arm and he responded by punching her three times until she released. She then allegedly bit his other forearm and scratched his head and kicked at other officers.

While in the vehicle, it is alleged Shatina Grady forcefully kicked the door of the car repeatedly, causing damage to the door and the door frame. 

In reviewing video and other evidence, Nessel determined Pearson's use of force was appropriate given her resistance.

Grady is charged with three counts of resisting and obstructing an officer, a two-year felony; one count of resisting and obstructing an officer causing injury, a four-year felony; and one count of malicious destruction of police property, a four-year felony. 

The arrest of Grady sparked protests in late May and early June in Washtenaw County as they demanded the officers involved be charged and/or fired.

Protesters want justice over video showing Washtenaw deputy punching woman

"We recognize that cases of excessive force are always sensitive and of great concern to the public - but that is particularly so because of the terrible tragedies involving aggressive acts by law enforcement across the country this summer," Nessel said. 

Both the Saginaw and Washtenaw counties cases involve white officers and black female detainees. The Attorney General's office said it conducted the investigations thoroughly and were unbiased in the reviews to reach the conclusions.

"While there is extensive video in the Saginaw and Washtenaw cases - as well as photographs - in our commitment to ensure a fair hearing and due process for all defendants, we are not releasing any of this content in advance of trial," Nessel said. "As prosecutors we have an ethical obligation to protect the evidence and to ensure a fair-minded jury that has not been tainted by graphic visuals parlayed by the media. Once the criminal prosecution is complete, it is likely all the video and photos available in this case will be subject to public disclosure under Michigan's Freedom of Information Act."