AG’s criminal unit reviewing Muskegon jail inmate death

Target 8
Paul Bulthouse photo from neck up

A mug shot of Paul Bulthouse from the Muskegon County Jail.

MUSKEGON, Mich. (WOOD) — The Michigan Attorney General’s Office criminal division will review the death of a Muskegon County Jail inmate to determine if the case merits charges.

The Muskegon County Sheriff’s Department had closed its internal investigation into the April 4 death of Paul Bulthouse, finding no wrongdoing.

But the department reopened the case in response to a Target 8 investigation that found a jail guard had witnessed one of Bulthouse’s 17 seizures on the morning of his death in a close-observation cell. The guard walked away; Bulthouse died 2.5 hours later without medical help.

Muskegon County Prosecutor D.J. Hilson asked Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel to appoint a special prosecutor to review the death. Often, the AG appoints a prosecutor from a neighboring county. In this case, however, Nessel assigned the case to her criminal division.

“As someone who has handled in-custody deaths like the one in this case, I am confident that the Department of Attorney General’s independent stance protects the integrity of this investigation and bolsters our ability to find answers,” Nessel said in a news release. “I look forward to a thorough and comprehensive review of the facts and evidence involved in this case.”

Hilson said he removed himself from the case because of his close relationship with the sheriff’s office.

“In this situation I appreciate an independent agency looking at the investigative reports to determine whether or not criminal charges should be filed,” said Hilson. “I appreciate the Attorney General’s Office taking a serious look at this unfortunate situation.”

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