Man arrested while collecting petition signatures wants apology

Kalamazoo and Battle Creek

SPRINGFIELD, Mich. (WOOD) — A Calhoun County sheriff’s deputy who arrested a Black man as he went door-to-door gathering petition signatures has been placed on administrative leave amid an internal investigation.

La-Ron Marshall told News 8 that on Jan. 2, he was collecting signatures to form a tenants’ association. As a deputy approached him, neighbor Kimberly Totzke started recording on her cellphone; the interaction was also captured on her home security cameras.

Marshall was accused of soliciting, arrested and placed in the back of a police cruiser.

“But he has not committed a crime,” Totzke can be hearing telling the officer in her video. “And he’s not doing anything wrong.”

“I was shocked,” Marshall told News 8 Wednesday.

He said he has collected signatures before with no trouble.

“Everyone was baffled by it. I still have not been able to sleep really too much,” he said. “I was trying to keep the peace here. It’s what I do. I go around to communities and around the cities making sure the communities are safe and make sure everyone has what they need and I am the one individual that can bridge that gap between law enforcement and the community and that’s what I was trying to do.”

Marshall said two of his children saw him being arrested.

“Just seeing them arrest my dad in front of my eyes, it was just hard to see,” Jabrien Deal, Marshall’s stepson, said.

Totzke said if police had never arrived, there would not been no problem.

“He would have got my signature went right next door and got their signature and went right next door and got their signature and went home and had a good night with his family,” she said.

Instead, Marshall said he spent the night in jail.

“I was arrested for not giving my identification I guess in a hurry, but I did eventually give them my identification,” he said.

His attorney Jennifer Lord said Marshall now faces a felony charge for obstructing an officer. Arraignment is scheduled for later this month. She is demanding all charges be dismissed.

Calhoun County Sheriff Steve Hinkley said in a video statement posted online Wednesday that his department is looking into the matter.

“Although callers initially thought that that activity was illegal, when the deputy made contact with the individual in this case, it appears he may have been acting on ordinances that were valid in other communities and not this particular community,” Hinkley said.

“They accuse him of solicitation and it becomes clear immediately that he’s not soliciting anything. He’s not asking for money. He’s seeking signatures to band together to assemble together with his neighbors to make their lives better and yet they continue to escalate the situation,” Lord said.

Marshall said he wants an apology.

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