2011-06-09 / Law Enforcement

County, RCSD in ‘pre-trial negotiation’ with Weber suit

A routine traffic stop almost three years ago has resulted in a lawsuit being filed against Roscommon County and the Roscommon County Sheriff’s Department. In response to the lawsuit filing, the county board of commissioners and Roscommon County Sheriff Randall Stevenson met May 31 in a closed session with the attorney representing the county in the proceeding, Jim Dyer.

According to a lawsuit filed by the firm of Skupin & Lucas of Detroit, on behalf of the plaintiff, Douglas Weber of Midland, Weber alleges he was “unlawfully assaulted and battered” by Roscommon County Sheriff Department deputies on July 4, 2008 during a traffic stop. The lawsuit states all the defendants are “charged with engaging in a conspiracy to deprive Plaintiff, Douglas Weber, of his rights, privileges and immunities under the law.”

It also states that Weber has had a history of cervical and lumbar issues and his arm was twisted and he was thrown into a vehicle. The lawsuit accuses the department of improper search and seizure, the use of excessive force and brutality during the arrest.

The lawsuit names Sheriff Randy Stevenson, Undersheriff Ed Stern, Deputy Dean Maeder and Deputy Ben Lowe and the county as the defendants.

According to the RCSD report, Weber was a passenger in a vehicle traveling southbound in Richfield Township on M-76 that failed to dim its bright headlights as it passed Maeder and Lowe’s patrol car.

The report states the vehicle was swerving and when Deputy Maeder made contact with Weber there was “a very strong odor of marijuana” coming from the vehicle. Maeder then asked Weber if he was in possession of marijuana and Weber advised Maeder he was not.

According to the report Maeder noticed “small particulates of marijuana” on Weber and after Maeder began to investigate Weber pulled away. Maeder then had Weber place his hands on the vehicle and began to search him while he was outside of the vehicle he was traveling in. The report states Weber pulled his hands away from the vehicle several times before Maeder said he would have to place handcuffs on Weber if he did not cooperate.

Maeder continued to search Weber and found a baggie containing two “marijuana roaches.” At that time Maeder attempted to place Weber in handcuffs and Weber struggled. Maeder then “forced Weber down onto the trunk of the vehicle.” Weber continued to struggle and he was eventually handcuffed.

Weber was arrested for possession of marijuana and resisting and obstruction.

Sheriff Randy Stevenson said neither himself or Stern were actually on scene when Weber was being searched or arrested. Stevenson added at that time he was retired and Stern did not come on scene until after Weber was gone. However, he said the way the deputies handled the situation was correct and “nothing was improper.”

Currently, Stevenson said the county and sheriff department are in “pre-trial negotiations” and there are “many levels” that must be gone through before there is any decision on taking the lawsuit to court. He added a judge must look at the issue to “see if there are any grounds” for trial.

“If a trial is what it takes to exonerate my officers, then I want it to go,” Stevenson said.

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