A federal appeals court ruled last week that a jury should decide whether the rights of a Sturgis resident were violated by officers from the Sturgis Police Department.
A three-judge panel from the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Friday rendered its opinion regarding the 2010 incident involving then-20-year-old Charles Smith over the theft of a phone charger from Walgreens in Sturgis.
Officers Damon Knapp and Mark Stonebrunner investigated the incident and allegedly used excessive force when attempting to arrest Smith at his residence. Attorneys for Smith claim their client’s head was slammed against a wall as officers handcuffed him, and he also sustained a wrist injury as a result of handcuffs being locked too tightly around his wrists.
Lawyers on behalf of the city indicated Smith was resisting arrest and the force was warranted in order to get him to comply with police. Smith was charged with third-degree retail fraud but he eventually pleaded to a lesser misdemeanor of disturbing the peace.
For the second time in less than 10 days, a 75-year-old Constantine man was forcibly restrained while his residence was burglarized.
Constantine Police Chief Jim Bedell said three men in the early morning hours of May 6 forced their way into a residence in the Whispering Pines neighborhood and tortured the man with second-degree burns on his legs and back. The suspects demanded to know the location of valuables inside his residence.
Two suspects had duct-taped the man to a chair April 28 and stolen a significant amount of cash and old coins, Bedell said.
In both cases, the suspects wore masks, gloves and had displayed handguns.
Two people were arrested over the weekend after they attempted to leave a Sturgis business without paying for more than $2,300 worth of merchandise.
Sturgis police said the two suspects shortly before midnight Sunday tried to leave the Wal-Mart store on South Centerville Road through a side door with a cart full of electronics and other high-priced items, police said.
Officers were called to the store by employees who noticed the suspects acting in a suspicious manner.
The suspects were taken to the St. Joseph County Jail. Information regarding their names, ages and residences was not included in a department media release.
An auction of confiscated and drug-forfeiture items by the St. Joseph County Sheriff’s Department grossed about $45,000 in sales Saturday.
Staged Saturday morning at the St. Joseph County fairgrounds, the auction included the sale of a Camaro Z28 for $10,000 and a trio of Harley Davidson motorcycles that sold for $11,000 collectively.
Nearly 300 people had bid cards and many made offers on tools, audio equipment, televisions, gaming consoles, sports cards and memorabilia, and a variety of other items.
Saturday’s auction was the fourth of its kind staged by the sheriff’s department.
Captain Jason Bingaman called the event a win-win situation, as many items sold for well below retail value and proceeds will go to the St. Joseph County Area Narcotics unit for undercover drug investigations.
The St. Joseph County Sheriff’s Department last week investigated a breaking-and-entering incident at a residence in Colon Township.
Investigators said someone entered a seasonal residence in the 56000 block of Stowell Road between April 27 and May 10.
A bed mattress, box spring and washing machine were stolen from the residence.
An 80-year-old Three Rivers man was not injured after the vehicle he was driving ended up in a creek Wednesday in Fabius Township
The St. Joseph County Sheriff’s Department said Fred Soukup was driving west on Coon Hollow Road when he lost control of his vehicle around 5:30 p.m. and went off the roadway near Ferguson Road.
Deputies said Soukup’s vehicle overturned and landed on the driver’s side. Soukup was able to exit the vehicle with the aid of passing motorists. He was cited for failure to use due care and caution.