KALAMAZOO — A federal lawsuit that alleges police misconduct when a Grand Traverse County sheriff’s deputy fatally shot an Interlochen man during a standoff is going to trial after almost six years.
The jury trial is set for Monday in U.S. District Court in Kalamazoo, and could have a significant financial impact on Grand Traverse County. The lawsuit seeks punitive damages of over $3 million for the estate of Craig Carlson, who was shot and killed at his home by Grand Traverse County sheriff’s deputy Charles Jetter after an 11-hour standoff on Nov. 10, 2007.
County commissioners last year rejected a mediated settlement proposed by its insurance carrier and effectively took over the financial risk. But Carlson family attorney Grant Parsons said the most important issue is how the county handles people who are ill.
“What they did was shoot a guy who was either belligerent or drunk or mentally ill,” Parsons said. “He didn’t do anything to harm them.”
Defense attorney Christopher Cooke said Jetter had a reasonable belief Carlson could have harmed police, who maintain Carlson was leaning out his front window and pointing an assault rifle at officers surrounding the house when Jetter fired the fatal shot.
“Deputy Jetter is a good man,” Cooke said. “He did what’s required both from his training and in the eyes of the law.”
One last-minute addition to the evidence list aims to parse through conflicting stories about Carlson’s final moments; Parsons said Cooke and the sheriff’s department apparently created a “mock-up” of Carlson’s front window as “demonstrative evidence” to present to the jury.
“Now going to do what they didn’t do at the time,” Parsons said, referring to his position that investigators failed to collect evidence that may have determined Carlson’s final position.
The judge delayed making a decision on entering it into evidence until the trial starts.
Cooke didn’t comment on the mock-up, but said he looked forward to the case’s resolution.