PAW PAW — No criminal charges will be brought against a Paw Paw police officer and a Van Buren County Sheriff's deputy who shot a man several times in February while investigating an alleged home invasion in Paw Paw Township.
That's the ruling issued this past week from the Van Buren County Prosecutor's office.
Following an investigation by the Michigan State Police (MSP) into the shooting incident involving Paw Paw Police Officer Tim McMeekan and K9 Deputy Dan Rowse, Van Buren County Prosecutor Susan Zuiderveen has ruled that neither men will face criminal charges in the shooting incident that occurred Feb. 18 in a residential driveway just outside of the Paw Paw Village limits.
"Both Officer Tim McMeekan and Deputy Dan Rowse were justified in discharging their firearms to stop the immediate threat posed by Brad Allen Hirte," Zuiderveen stated in her ruling.
Michigan State Police, who conducted the investigation, concurred with the prosecutor's decision.
"There will be no further action taken by MSP regarding this officer-involved shooting investigation," said Specialist Lt. Duwayne Robinson, public information officer for the Michigan State Police Fifth District, in Paw Paw. "MSP supports the disposition taken by Van Buren prosecutor’s office."
The shooting incident involving the two officers occurred Feb. 18 when they responded at 9:30 p.m. to the scene of a home invasion reported at a residence on County Road 374. They were told the suspect, later identified as Hirte, a 49-year-old truck driver from Wisconsin, had broken into the home, stole a kitchen knife and then used the knife to cut his own wrist and left, according to the prosecutor's report that was issued to the media on Aug. 31 along with Zuiderveen's decision.
When Rose arrived with K9 Bruno, he and McMeekan began following the suspect's footprints and a blood trail leading from the residence where the knife had been taken from to another home located on Orchard Lane, according to the report.
When the two officers approached the driveway they were confronted by Hirte who ran toward them with a knife raised above his head. Although the two officers repeatedly told Hirte to drop the knife, he kept coming toward the two officers. When the deputy lost his balance on the snow-covered drive, McMeekan fired a single round at the suspect, partly in an effort to protect Rowse in case he was attacked with the knife. Although the shot did not hit the suspect, Hirte fell to the ground at the sound of the gun, but regained his balance and came toward the two officers with the knife, again.
The two officers repeated their warning that Hirte put the weapon down. But he kept advancing with the weapon. It was then that both officers each fired two shots at the suspect. Medical aid was rendered at the scene. Hirte was then transported by ambulance to Bronson Methodist Hospital in critical condition. He was later released from the hospital on March 10.
After the shooting incident occurred, the county sheriff's department turned the investigation over to the jurisdiction of MSP. Under the supervision of Det. Full Lieutenant Chuck Christensen of the MSP 5th District, troopers Thomas Coles and Bradley Machiela served as evidence technicians, while Sgt. Brandon Davis was in charge of reconstructing the scene of the shooting. Residents in the area were also interviewed. One woman, who witnessed the shooting from inside her home, told police she saw the officers walking down the roadway and heard their commands for the suspect to "get down, get down," and "drop it." She then heard four to six gunshots.
In rendering her decision, Zuiderveen said she considered several different court rulings in regard to Michigan law that allows police officers to use force in the performance of their job. She cited the 1985 Tennessee v. Garner case in which the Supreme Court ruled that "where the officer has probable cause to believe the suspect poses a threat of serious physical harm, either to the officer or to others, is is not constitutionally unreasonable to prevent escape by using deadly force."