STANTON, Mich. (WOOD) - A father will not face drunk driving or child endangerment charges even though dashcam video recorded him admitting to a Montcalm County deputy he had been drinking before he crashed his car with his 4-year-old son in his lap.
Target 8 found a key step in the investigation was missed: A blood alcohol test was never administered.
The suspect, 34-year-old Sean Bylsma of Comstock Park, put up quite the fight with the deputy, even continuing to struggle after he'd been Tasered.
"He held his cool. He fought with this guy," said Montcalm County Sheriff Bill Barnwell of the deputy involved.
But Barnwell said the suspect's combative attitude is part of why deputies decided not to administer a blood alcohol test.
After getting into a physical altercation with the deputy at his mother's Sidney Township home, Bylsma was arrested. He continued to bang his head on the cruiser windows and fight.
"The officers were concerned about trying to take him to the hospital and trying to get blood," said Sheriff Barnwell. "We suspected that we weren't going to have a cooperation with him and we're concerned about his medical condition and the fact that we're now going have to fight with him to get blood out of him."
Barnwell said the deputy realized that may interfere with the drunk driving charge -- but Bylsma would face a bevy of other serious charges, anyway. But what the deputy didn't realize was that without a blood test, the child endangerment charge couldn't stick either.
"It wasn't until the next morning when I realized in talking with the prosecutor that we couldn't pursue that because of that," he said.
The sheriff said his department has learned -- albeit the hard way -- from what happened in this case.
Barnwell says the deputy involved has worked with the department for years and that he discussed the issue with him.
"In hindsight and being the armchair quarterback the next day, certainly it's easier for me. I wasn't the one fighting with the guy on the for 20 minutes in a snowbank on an icy road, on an icy driveway. I would clarify it as part of a tough job of being a police officer and trying to make the right decisions all the time and sometimes you don't always make the perfect decisions."
Bylsma has an extensive criminal past. He had been out of prison less than a month at the time of the incident. And despite the mistake, he is still facing serious charges that could send him back to prison for years.
Bylsma has been charged with felony fleeing and eluding a police officer, felony assault-resisting or obstructing a police officer, operating while license suspended, revoked or denied, and open alcohol in a motor vehicle.
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