Traverse City -- A judge declined to dismiss a lawsuit filed by an attorney who's investigating the shooting death of an Interlochen man by a Grand Traverse Sheriff's Department sniper.
On Monday, 13th Circuit Judge Thomas G. Power denied a motion to dismiss a state Freedom of Information Act suit filed against the sheriff's department by Traverse City attorney Grant Parsons. Robert Cooney, an assistant county prosecutor who's serving as attorney for the sheriff's department, sought to have the suit dismissed.
Parsons is investigating the November death of Craig Carlson, who was shot by sheriff's sniper Charles Jetter after a lengthy standoff at Carlson's home. Parsons sued on behalf of the family in January, alleging the department failed to provide a timely response to his request for incident reports under FOIA.
Cooney wrote in a motion to dismiss that the sheriff's department "timely responded with all of the materials requested."
In court, Cooney argued that Parsons filed his suit before the 15 business days allowed under FOIA law had passed. Parsons submitted the FOIA request Jan. 16 and filed his suit Jan. 24.
Power told Cooney his written motion to dismiss the suit doesn't deal with the timing of Parsons' suit, but instead claims Parsons was provided everything he requested. Power said Cooney could reformulate his motion for dismissal if he thinks Parsons prematurely filed suit.
"I think that's a good argument, it might be true, but I didn't see the argument made here," Power said.
Cooney did not return a call for comment. Parsons said he will continue with lawsuit depositions, and he plans to question Sheriff Scott Fewins, the county 911 director and others.
Parsons contends the sheriff's department withheld critical information from his FOIA request. He also contends Kalkaska County Prosecutor Brian Donnelly, who investigated the shooting on order from the state Attorney Generals' office, didn't look at all the evidence before clearing Jetter of wrongdoing.
Donnelly, during a recent deposition, acknowledged he didn't examine ballistic evidence, photos of the scene taken by the state police and other items, Parsons said.
"He was not provided some of the obviously relevant evidence," Parsons said.