ALLEGAN, Mich. (WOOD) — An Allegan County sheriff’s deputy who shot and killed a man during a traffic stop in June will not face charges.
Allegan County Prosecutor Myrene Koch determined the deputy’s actions were “justified under the extreme circumstances,” a Monday release said.
Joseph Nagle, 22, of Comstock Park, was shot the night of June 16 after the deputy pulled him over on 26th Street between 134th and 136th Avenues in Monterey Township, northwest of Wayland. There was no dashcam or bodycam video of the stop because the Allegan County Sheriff’s Office didn’t have those cameras at the time.
The deputy pulled Nagle over on suspicion of impaired driving, with the prosecutor saying in her report that Nagle had stopped when he didn’t have a sign, was driving below the speed limit and swerving in and out of his lane.
According to the prosecutor’s report, Nagle was initially cooperative when the deputy approached him, handing over his license and admitting his tags were expired. The deputy also reported smelling marijuana and seeing that Nagle’s cellphone was on his lap and playing a video. Nagle denied doing drugs. The deputy told him to get out of the car for sobriety tests and said he was “acting agitated and moving quickly,” and that he was behaving “erratically,” the prosecutor wrote.
He failed the first test, the prosecutor said, and then got more upset.
“Nagle began raising his voice while grabbing his own head and asking why the deputy was still testing him. He asked in a raised voice why they were still doing the testing and why it was necessary,” the prosecutor wrote. “Nagle repeatedly stated he did not do drugs because he works for a delivery service. Nagle began turning in circles with his hands on his head stating he had bad anxiety.”
Eventually, the prosecutor said, Nagle tried to get back in his car. The deputy called for backup and told Nagle he was under arrest for failure to comply with his instructions. The prosecutor said the deputy grabbed Nagle’s hands, but Nagle was still moving around.
“He (Nagle) then suddenly turned and faced the deputy. The deputy still maintained control of Nagle’s hands at this point. When they were face to face, the deputy told Nagle ‘don’t do this’ before he let go of one of Nagle’s hands to call over the radio there was a fight,” the report says.
“Nagle heard what the deputy said and became more agitated and tried to get away from the deputy. The deputy then told Nagle ‘please don’t do this.’ Nagle replied, ‘Don’t do what? Shoot me? That’s your goal isn’t it? To shoot and kill me?’ The deputy responded stating ‘I don’t want to shoot you’ and to ‘stop fighting,’” the report continued.
The prosecutor said Nagle then punched the deputy and shouted, “Why are you trying to kill me?” He then allegedly said, “I am going to kill you.” Nagle continued punching and head-butted the deputy.
The deputy said that after Nagle, who was a successful wrestler in high school, had struck him between 15 and 20 times, his vision started to blur, his legs felt weak and he was afraid he was losing consciousness. He said he was afraid for his life.
He said he let go of Nagle’s wrist, drew his gun and shot Nagle once in the chest.
“The driver backed up, smiled, and chuckled before falling backwards onto the ground,” the prosecutor’s office wrote.
The deputy said he reported shots fired and started CPR, which were continued when EMTs arrived.
Relieved by the EMTs, the deputy was dizzy and had to grab another officer’s vest to stay on his feet. He was taken to the hospital to be treated for head and face injuries. A police report obtained by News 8 last week said the deputy had a bloody nose, a gouge behind his left ear, scratches on his neck, cuts on both hands and swelling of the face.
It was about 10 minutes between when the officer reported to dispatch he was conducting the traffic and when he reported the shot fired. He reported the fight about one minute before reporting the shots.
An autopsy found evidence that supported the deputy’s claims that Nagle punched and head-butted him. The autopsy also found cocaine and THC, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana, in Nagle’s system and police learned he had been acting erratically earlier in the day. People who knew Nagle said he had been in a “downward spiral” since his dad died a couple of years ago and that he was known to use drugs.
The prosecutor said the deputy was too close to Nagle to try to use his Taser. The prosecutor also noted that the deputy had been injured and Nagle had threatened him, so the deputy had reason to believe his life was in danger.
MSP was called in to investigate the deputy’s use of deadly force, which is standard procedure. Koch received MSP’s investigation Aug. 12.
The attorney representing Nagle’s family, Tom Siver, has asked the Michigan Attorney General’s Office to review the case, he said at a news conference.
“We will get justice for Joey Nagle,” Siver said.
He would not provide further comment.
Kent County Commissioner Robert S. Womack said he spoke with Nagle’s mother on the phone before the news conference. He said she is happy the attorneys are bringing the case to the state attorney general.
“It’s just a very heart wrenching investigation for the family, to have to see their son, their brother, their uncle, their loved one, their schoolmate, their friend, their coworker villainized so bad in the police investigation,” Womack said. “Our prayers go out to the mother. And once again I want to thank these attorneys for continuing to push for justice for Joey Nagle.”
All patrol deputies in Allegan County are now equipped with bodycams, the sheriff told News 8 Tuesday. Rollout of the cameras started this spring but was not complete until after Nagle was shot.
— News 8’s Madalyn Buursma contributed to this report.