Family files wrongful death lawsuit against police in Berrien Co.

Southwest Michigan

ORONOKO TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — The family of a man who died after an altercation with police officers in Berrien County has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against them and other government agencies.

The family of Jack Lunneen is suing the village of Berrien Springs, Oronoko Township, the Berrien Springs-Oronoko Township police chief, an officer, the Berrien County sheriff, a deputy and another government official who was not named.

A complaint filed Wednesday in court says police responded to a woman’s home on Oct. 22, 2018 in Berrien Springs after she called saying a man was circling her home and yelling for help. The woman said the man pushed her air conditioning unit through a window, breaking it.

After searching the area, Officer James Wyss and Deputy Roger Johnson found the alleged suspect, Lunneen, the complaint says. Both officers asked Lunneen to stay where he was after he moved toward them while continuing to call for help and asking them if they were going to kill him. Investigators believe the suspect may have had a mental illness or was under the influence of drugs.

The complaint says body camera video shows officers took Lunneen and wrestled him to the ground. Excessive force was used resulting in Lunneeth becoming unresponsive, the document says.

The document says Wyss went to his car to grab a life-saving device, which was not used. Both officers allegedly made jokes while Lunneen was unresponsive.

Paramedics responded to the scene and took Lunneen to the hospital where he was pronounced dead.

An autopsy report in the complaint lists the cause of death “as excited delirium associated with methamphetamine use.”

Both Wyss and Johnson were placed on administrative leave with pay.

Family members are asking for the case to go to trial and want money for damages. Lunneen’s family says he should have been protected by the Fourth and Fifth amendments.

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