HASTINGS, Mich. (WOOD) — Barry County Sheriff Dar Leaf is coming under criticism for appearing on stage at an anti-shutdown rally in Grand Rapids this summer with men now charged in the plot to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.
And then, making statements to the FOX station in Grand Rapids on Thursday night that the men were considering a quote “felony arrest” — which would be legal.
That prompted a tweet from Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel, who said as the top law enforcement officer in the state, only licensed and trained officers can make arrests.
The tone from Leaf was different on Friday. He told News 8 his comments on Thursday were misunderstood.
When asked if he thinks it’s within the law for citizens to make a felony arrest of the governor, Leaf said he “used that as an example to why we shouldn’t jump to conclusions, because we don’t know what the intent is.”
Leaf says he was shocked to learn that two men he knew, brothers Michael and William Null, were allegedly involved in the plot to kidnap and kill the governor.
When asked about his relationship with the Null brothers, the sheriff said, “I know them. They… I can’t remember the first time I met (them).”
Leaf says it’s been more than a year since he met the brothers. He knows their families, sees them at rallies and met with them when they voiced concerns with the Black Lives Matter movement, but nothing more.
News 8 asked Leaf if he regrets being on stage with the men, now knowing what they are being accused of.
“No, I don’t even know if this was in the picture back when we were on stage together and why would I regret it?” Leaf said. “I was there as a speaker.”
Sheriff Leaf says the men were acting as security at the rally — a scary thought after Nessel announced that in addition to allegedly targeting the governor, the men were attempting to get the home addresses of law enforcement officers in order to make threats of violence.
News 8 asked the sheriff if he doubts the allegations brought forward by the FBI and the prosecution.
“I’m not doubting anything right now. I’m just surprised at it,” Leaf said, adding he never heard any statements about harming the governor. And he wouldn’t have tolerated it.
“It’s not just the Null brothers,” Leaf said. “If anyone in my community was thinking about it and I knew about it, we would have stopped them dead in their tracks. We would have reeled them in and (told) them how stupid of an idea that was.”