Michigan Family of Teen Shot to Death by Cop After Flashing High Beams
On the night of February 28, 2015, a 17-year-old male named Deven Guilford flashed his high beams at a Michigan law enforcement officer, claiming the cop was blinding him with his own high beams.
That prompted Eaton County Sheriff’s Sergeant Jonathan Frost to pull the teenager over, who informed Guilford that he was the third person he had pulled over that night for the same thing, even though it is not illegal to momentarily flash high beams at another car, even if it happens to be a cop.
Frost informed Guilford that he was driving a new patrol car with high-intensity headlights, so he not driving with his high beams on.
However, within six minutes of the traffic stop, Guilford would be dead, shot seven times by Frost, who later claimed he was in fear for his life after fighting with the teen in the snow.
The incident was mostly recorded on video, including Frost’s bodycam and Guilford’s cell phone, but both cameras have gone black when the shots were fired.
And although Frost was proudly driving a brand new patrol car with high-intensity headlights, the car was not equipped with a dashcam, which would show us what really took place that night.
However, the department had already purchased the dashcams, but claimed they were having issues with the necessary software that would allow them to work.
But the two available videos show that Guilford was shot after he was already laying on his stomach.
And he was shot after he had already been tased, which Frost later claimed, he had to do because the teen was looking back at him with an expression that he was going to suddenly jump up and attack him.
These are things they apparently teach officers in the academy; how to predict a person’s violent intentions from a single glance backwards as they lie on their stomach on the side of side of a dark road in snowy weather.
Within the six seconds from when Frost fired his taser to when he fired his gun, he claims that Guilford stood up and began violently attacking him, leaving him with a bloody face, making him feel as if he was going to lose consciousness, according to the Lansing State Journal.
He pulled the trigger, but the gun became jammed, so he manage to eject that round and fired seven rounds, killing the teen.
Frost, of course, was cleared of any wrongdoing and continues to work the beat, but now has a brand-new dashcam to go along with his high-intensity lights.
One of the justifications for use of force, besides the old backwards glance that apparently sent shivers down Frost’s back, was the fact that Guilford, at one point during the stop, attempted to make a phone call, which as we’ve been seeing lately, is the 2015 excuse police have been using to strip people from their phones.
After all, they can call for all the back-up they want, but we apparently do not have the right to inform friends and family of the ongoing situation.
According to the Lansing State Journal:
“When Mr. Guilford started to make the phone call, Sgt. Frost suspected that he may be calling somebody to come help him,” the report said. “He decided for his own safety that it was necessary to act immediately to affect the arrest and prevent the driver from making a phone call in case he was attempting to call someone else that might arrive and become a threat to Sgt. Frost.”
But Guilford was only trying to call his girlfriend, whose home he had just left and where he had left his wallet.
A lawsuit filed today by his family, which can be read here, states that he was trying to get his girlfriend to bring him his wallet, so he can show the deputy his drivers license. His family also released this statement after Frost was cleared.
The video below shows footage from both Frost’s bodycam and Guilford’s cell phone. One of the first things Guilford tells Frost is that he is “video and audio recording for your safety and my safety.”
The video shows Frost shining a bright light in Guilford’s face while denying that he high-beamed him. Frost also informs him that he had already pulled two people over that night for the same thing, so it was evidently a slow night for him.
However, when Frost demands to see his drivers license, Guilford refuses, telling him, “I don’t have to give you that” on the basis that Frost did have his high beams on and that he did not commit any violations by flashing his own high beams.
But he also, at one point, admits he did not his license on him. After a few minutes of back and forth bickering, Frost begins to escalate the situation.
Four minutes into the video, Frost can be heard calling for backup, saying he had a “priority.”
At 4:13 in the video, Frost opens the car door and orders the teen to “get out of the car.”
At 4:25, Frost has his hands on Guilford’s wrist, who is telling him, “do not touch me, officer.”
At 4:35, Frost his pointing a taser at the teen, who is still sitting in the car with the door open.
Guilford steps out of the car, holding his cell phone in his hand, which is recording.
Rather than order him to turn around and place his hands behind his back, which is the normal procedure for suspects who are not suspected of being armed, Frost orders him to lay on the ground with his arms spread to his sides.
“Arms out to the side!” orders Frost.
“I don’t have a weapon,” says Guilford, complying with his orders.
At 5:12, Frost kicks the phone from out of his hands, making that footage go black.
“You can’t do that,” Guilford yells.
“Put your hands behind your back, you’re under arrest,” Frost orders.
At 5:24, Frost tasers the teen, which lasts for several long seconds. That was right after he claimed the teen gave him that vicious look that made him fear for his life.
At 5:29, Frost’s bodycam goes black and for the next few seconds, it sounds as if there might be a struggle because Frost is panting.
At 5:35, a gunshot is heard, followed by several more gunshots.
At 5:37, Guilford can be heard screaming as if in pain.
At 5:38, the scream ends, but at least two more gunshots are fired as a car can be heard whizzing by.
When backup arrived about a minute or so later, Frost was bleeding from his face.
But without a dashcam to allow us to see for ourselves what really took place that night, it’s impossible to determine whether Frost did those injuries to himself within the 60 seconds it took backup to arrive or if Guilford managed to do that during the six seconds he was laying on his stomach to when he was shot.