Charges being dropped after signature arrest near BC

Kalamazoo and Battle Creek

SPRINGFIELD, Mich. (WOOD) — Charges of resisting and obstructing will not be pursued against a Calhoun County man who was collecting signatures for a tenants’ rights organization in his apartment complex last week.

La-Ron Marshall told News 8 that he met with the Calhoun County sheriff and undersheriff Saturday, where they apologized to him. The Calhoun County Prosecutor’s Office also said it will not be pursuing charges in the case.

Marshall told News 8 on Wednesday he was collecting signatures with his two sons in the Wyndetree Townhomes in Springfield last week when someone called Calhoun County Central Dispatch to report a “suspicious person.”

Marshall says he was trying to find neighbors to join a tenant’s association to prevent crime after his car was broken into.

“People’s rims were stolen off their cars, people’s cars were broken into on numerous occasions, people’s license plates were stolen, their kids bikes,” Marshall said.

While stopped at a home, two Calhoun County deputies approached Marshall and asked for identification.

Marshall says he was talking to his neighbor Kimberly Totzke. Totzke started recording on her Ring security camera and her cellphone. She posted the videos to YouTube on Sunday night.

The deputies told Marshall he was soliciting without a permit before they arrested him on resisting and obstructing charges for refusing to give them his identification.

“Immediately, it wasn’t an officer friendly approach. They were aggressive. So, I’m glad she had the cameras and that she was recording,” Marshall said.

Calhoun County Sheriff Steve Hinkley posted a video to Facebook Wednesday afternoon after being contacted by News 8. In the short video, he says the deputies may have been acting on ordinances in other communities that aren’t applicable in Springfield. He didn’t address Marshall’s story that he wasn’t soliciting but in fact collecting signatures.

The deputy that made the arrest remains on administrative leave while the Calhoun County Sheriff’s Office completes an internal investigation.

Marshall says he believes he was racially profiled. He says the incident is a prime example of why we need police reform.

“Things need to change. Especially with what’s going on all around the country. It’s just crazy,” Marshall said. “As a Black man, a Black and native man, I’m tired of being looked at in a certain way.”

Marshall says he and his lawyer are now working with the sheriff’s office to institute changes. He says they’re also working to learn if there will be any consequences for the other sheriff’s deputy who responded to the Jan. 2 call.

“Law enforcement and communities need to work together. If we’re going to keep the violence down everyone has to be on one accord,” he said.

Marshall says he plans to launch a podcast talking about racial justice and police brutality in the coming months.

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