Traverse City Record-Eagle

October 26, 2013

Grawn shooter found guilty

Traverse City Record-Eagle

---- — TRAVERSE CITY — A jury found a Grawn man guilty of trying to kill law enforcement officers during an April shootout at his home.

Richard Radcliffe, 50, could face life imprisonment after his conviction Thursday in 13th Circuit Court on seven of the nine counts he faced. The jury found Radcliffe not guilty on one count of felony assault to commit murder and misdemeanor possession of a firearm while intoxicated.

Grand Traverse County Prosecutor Bob Cooney said he was “relieved” by the verdict because Radcliffe was a threat to the community.

“At the same time, I realize that mental illness played some part in this and it’s unfortunate,” Cooney said. “My sympathy does go out to his family. I’d also like to add that I’m not sure the public always realizes the effect that these sort of incidents have on police officers and their families.”

Radcliffe was arrested April 7 after he fired an AK-47 assault rifle at two sheriff’s deputies and a Michigan Department of Natural Resources conservation officer outside his Blair Township home. Bullets flew across Sunburst Street into a neighboring mobile home and one deputy returned fire, but no one was injured before Radcliffe surrendered.

Defense attorney Dena Horvath said she was “disappointed” the jury found Radcliffe guilty of intending to kill a sheriff’s deputy and the conservation officer, but was pleased with a not guilty verdict on a third count involving a sheriff’s deputy. She said evidence showed Radcliffe fired “very high” over all the officers’ heads.

“He did not intend to hurt any of the police officers,” she said. “The only person he wanted to hurt was himself through suicide-by-cop.”

Cooney argued in his closing statement that a “suicide-by-cop” attempt did not exclude the possibility that Radcliffe intended to kill police. He said testimony and evidence — including a 911 call from Radcliffe’s mother — showed the defendant’s intent was lure police to his house in order to kill them.

“What else can your intent be when you shoot at somebody with a high-powered rifle except you want to kill them?” Cooney said.

The jury found Radcliffe guilty of two counts of assault with intent to commit murder, three felony counts of assault with a dangerous weapon, discharge of firearms at a building and felony firearm.

A sentencing hearing is scheduled for Nov. 8. Horvath said Radcliffe “definitely” will look into an appeal.

“Mr. Radcliffe is a very intelligent and kind person who made a big mistake on that date,” she said. “What he did didn’t rise to the level of the crimes he was found guilty of.”