Michigan deputy accused of assaulting man with autism ordered to stand trial

A northern Michigan sheriff's deputy accused of agitating then assaulting a man with autism at a group home last year was ordered to stand trial this week.

According to Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel, Ogemaw County Sheriff’s Deputy Matthew Viviano and other deputies responded to the Premier Care Assisted Living Home at 5205 S M-33 in Alger on Sept. 8, 2021. The deputies were called because a 27-year-old man with autism had allegedly assaulted a caretaker, and was described as "out of control."

Ogemaw Sheriff’s Deputy Michael O’Dell responded to the scene, along with Michigan State Police Troopers Robert Lee, Justin Henderson, and Jo Hamlin. According to Nessel, they described the man as not able to effectively communicate and said he was showing signs of emotional distress. Law enforcement also reported that his movements did not appear assaultive or threatening, Nessel said.

Viviano is accused of forcing the man to sit, which agitated and upset him. When the victim did not comply, Nessel said Viviano assaulted the man. Lee intervened and stopped the assault.

The victim was taken to a hospital by O'Dell for evaluation. 

Viviano is charged with one count of misconduct in office, and one count of assault and battery.

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Nessel said the troopers reported the incident to MSP Sgt. Craig Johnson.

"Officers who violate the law erode the public’s trust in law enforcement," Nessel said. "I commend the Michigan State Police troopers for reporting this incident and working with my department to hold accountable an officer who violated the law."