GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Kent County Prosecutor Chris Becker says the shooting of an armed man by a Kent County sheriff’s deputy in November was justified.
Becker’s decision clears Deputy James Davis of any wrongdoing in the shooting.
Becker reached his decision after Wyoming police, who investigate officer-involved shootings for the sheriff’s department, turned over its report.
Much of the evidence in that report came from police car dashcam, as well as from a motion-activated camera inside the Saucier home.
Becker says Saucier’s blood alcohol content at the time of the shooting, which was over three times the legal limit for someone driving in Michigan, was also a contributing factor.
“Clearly, he had a lot, that led to those intoxication level,” Becker said. “You heard the 911 call. You saw his behavior. And unfortunately, it led to his death that night.”
Hours before the fatal shooting, Saucier, his wife, Megan and one of his wife’s co-workers had returned home after a night at the bar.
Saucier and the co-worker had been drinking.
They argued over claims the co-worker had been assaulted.
“Nobody knows whether she fell, but there is no evidence that she was assaulted by Steven or Megan. But I think that’s what starts driving what occurs in these next few videos,” Becker said as he highlighted evidence from both the home’s camera and from the police cruiser dashcam.
The assault claims escalated into verbal arguments between Saucier and the co-worker.
The co-worker’s parents later got involved when they came to get their daughter’s belongings.
Both sides dial 911, first the co-worker’s parents, claiming Saucier was assaulting them.
“We drove from Lansing to get her, and now he’s beating on my husband. He is 68 years old,” Barbara Milllisor, co-worker Anastasia Milllisor’s mother told dispatchers.
At about the same time, Saucier dials 911, with a profanity-laced tirade.
“Do you still have the baseball bat in your hand still, Steven?” asked a Kent County dispatcher.
“No,” Saucier told the call taker. “I never had a baseball bat. I have a (expletive deleted) firearm in my hand, and you better get the (expletive deleted) here!”
Uniformed Kent County deputies Elizabeth Donovan and Davis arrive, knocking on a window to the home.
They do not announce themselves as the police.
“I can’t believe… it was lit, the porch lights on, how he doesn’t recognize two deputies standing there, after his wife has told him. His wife clearly says it’s the police before he answers the door, and when he gets to the door,” Becker said.
Saucier carried a cocked and loaded 45.
On the home video, his wife Megan is heard telling him to put it away.
“It’s the police. It’s the police. Steven, put the gun down.”
The dashcam shows Donavon suddenly pushed to the ground by Saucier. The gun Saucier was carrying at what they call a low ready position.
”It’s not just he’s got it on his side. It’s almost in an active, ready to do something with it,” Becker said while describing the position of the gun.
Fearing for his partner’s life, Davis shoots Saucier once in the chest.
He dies at the scene.
The report includes a recording of a conversation between Donovan and Davis from inside a patrol car after the incident.
”You saved my life, seriously,” Donovan tells Davis.
Becker called it one of the most powerful pieces of evidence that convinced him that the shooting was justified.
“It’s not too big of a stretch to think that her partner is thinking she could die,” Becker said. “There is no necessity under the law that he’s got to wait for a shot to be fired, given the circumstances.”
Davis and Donovan were not injured during the incident. Both have returned to duty.