Prosecutor will not press charges against officer who shot Ann Arbor resident

By Anastassios Adamopoulos, Daily Staff Reporter
and Lara Moehlman, Daily Staff Reporter
Published January 30, 2015

The Washtenaw County Prosecutor’s Office announced Friday afternoon it will not press criminal charges against Ann Arbor Police Officer David Ried for the fatal shooting of 40-year-old Ann Arbor resident Aura Rosser on Nov. 10, 2014.

Prosecuting attorney Brian Mackie said in a statement the shooting was “lawful self-defense.” The prosecutor’s office announced the decision after the Michigan State Police finished a two-month-long investigation.

The shooting occurred after Ann Arbor police officers David Ried and Mark Raab arrived in response to a domestic violence call from Victor Stephens, with whom Rosser was living.

According to the prosecutor’s report the police officers arrived on the scene and saw Rosser attacking Stephens with a knife in her hand, who then turned to the officers and moved toward them. After the officers ordered Rosser to put down the knife, Ried fired one gun shot while Naab fired a shot from his taser at the same time.

The memorandum notes that Rosser suffered from mental illness but was not taking her prescribed psychotropic medicine at the time of the event. The toxicology report found cocaine and alcohol in Rosser’s system.

Jeffrey Jentzen, Washtenaw County medical examiner, wrote in the report that the two drugs in combination with the discontinuation of prescribed medication could have led to aggressive behavior and delirium.

In an interview Friday evening, Councilmember Sabra Briere (D–Ward 1) said she was curious as to why it took so long to make the decision given that most information about the case was already known.

She also said she found it interesting that Ried fired his gun while the other officer used a taser, and said she doesn’t know what protocol each officer followed.

“I think the most important thing we can do now is really address our expectations for training and police reaction,” Briere said.

Briere said she thought it is important to talk about the potential of a citizen review board or a citizen oversight board that could help guide policies and procedure for the police when dealing with someone who is intoxicated or mentally ill.

Earlier this month, the city’s Human Rights Commission announced it would establish a subcommittee to look into police policies, and is considering the creation of a citizen review board.

Briere said she worries about how police are trained to interact with people with mental health issues, as well as intoxicated people who might have a lower capacity for restraint. She said this consideration is especially important in Ann Arbor, which is home to many college students who can often overindulge in alcohol.

“If our police are not well trained in dealing with people who have control issues then that it is not an issue for just the Aura Rossers of our community, it’s an issue for everybody in our community,” she said.

In response to Rosser’s death and several incidents across the nation in which Blacks were killed by law enforcement officials, most notably in Ferguson, Missouri, and Staten Island, New York, Ann Arbor City Council passed a resolution in December 2014 to implement the use of body cameras by the Ann Arbor Police Department.

Before the meeting, protesters marched in downtown Ann Arbor to protest Rosser’s shooting.

In an interview with The Michigan Daily earlier this week, Greg Bazick, deputy chief of the AAPD, said body cameras overall represent a positive investment. The AAPD has used in-car video cameras for years, and Bazick said they serve to protect both officers and citizens.

Bazick said he views body cameras as a “natural progression” from the in-vehicle cameras many officers currently employ. They would provide a more comprehensive coverage of police interactions than the in-vehicle cameras, which have limited access and microphones that reach only within the vehicle area.

“Oftentimes the interactions that folks have are usually when their emotional state is a little bit heightened, and perceptions sometimes aren’t as secure as if you look at them as an unbiased third party,” he said.

Briere said the body cameras also serve as an important resource for officers.

“Having the camera is to give us not just a recording, as if we are looking for someone doing something evil,” she said. “It’s going to give us an accurate tool for analyzing what happened: what went right, what went wrong.”

Bazick said video footage of interactions is the best way to glean an accurate representation of the situation.

“When there are complaints about the actions that an officer took, it’s much better to be able to have a recording of it,” he said.

However, he also noted some drawbacks of body cameras, and voiced concern over the impacts of the public’s ability to request and obtain footage of officers on duty through mechanisms such as the Freedom of Information Act.

“How do we manage the Freedom of Information processes whereby really anybody can get access to these videos, and they can do with them what they want?,” he said. “Privacy is an issue that’s probably larger than anybody has been able to experience the full effects of.”

Though many municipalities have started employing body cameras in light of recent incidents in Ferguson and elsewhere, some critics argue body cameras do not represent a “silver bullet” for improving the ways in which law enforcement officials interact with the public.

The AAPD has purchased 86 cameras, 80 of which will be issued to regularly uniformed officers. However, the AAPD consists of 122 sworn officers in total. Officers who will not receive the body cameras immediately include the police chief, the deputy chiefs, detectives, and officers working primarily administrative assignments.

Bazick noted that the long-term goal is for every AAPD officer to be issued a camera, if future funding allows for it. The body cameras are slated for delivery toward the end of March, and Police Chief John Seto expects them to be in use by June.

Correction appended: A previous version of this article incorrectly quoted Sabra Briere..