GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — The Kent County prosecutor has ruled that police officers were justified in opening fire on a suicidal man at a Wyoming cemetery late last month.
The man, 52-year-old Joel Peloquin of Wayland, actually died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head during the March 30 incident at Resurrection Cemetery on Clyde Park Avenue at 44th Street SW.
Peloquin was also shot three times by officers: once in the chest, once in the thigh and once in the upper arm. The medical examiner ruled none of those shots would have been fatal, according to the decision Prosecutor Chris Becker released Monday.
>>PDF: Becker’s full decision
The prosecutor wrote that the situation started when Peloquin approached three people at the cemetery and told them he was going to shoot himself. They tried to talk him out of it, but he repeated that he was going to kill himself. One of the people texted her mother, who then called police.
Three Wyoming Department of Public Safety officers, Officer Dwayn Holmberg, Officer Lee Atkinson and Sgt. Ross Eagan, responded and walked up. When Peloquin noticed them, he ran off. One of the bystanders tried to tackle him, but couldn’t. The officers gave chase. Two of them saw he had a gun.
Then Peloquin turned and raised the gun. In their reports, Atkinson and Eagan wrote they were concerned for their safety and the safety of the bystanders and that’s why they opened fire.
The third officer, Holmberg, wrote that he saw Peloquin turn to face the other officers and put the gun to his head. Holmberg said he heard shots fired before he raised his own gun.
The bystanders’ statements and other evidence backed up that series of events.
Tests shows Peloquin had been drinking. His blood alcohol content (BAC) level was .16, twice the state’s legal limit. The prosecutor said he was also under investigation for possession of child pornography and that Allegan County authorities had seized his computer two days before he died.
Becker said it was clear the officers had clear reason to believe that they and the bystanders were in danger, justifying their use of force, so they won’t face any charges.