Family of slain teen Deven Guilford sues Michigan cop for roadside shooting

Before you go, we thought you'd like these...
Before you go close icon
Family of Teen Shot Dead by Cop During Traffic Stop Sues Michigan Officer

The family of a Michigan teenager shot to death by a police officer filed a wrongful-death lawsuit against the cop this week, saying he repeatedly violated the boy's civil rights during a traffic stop that ended with the victim shot seven times in a roadside snowbank.

The lawsuit follows a June decision by local prosecutors not to charge Sgt. Jonathan Frost of the Eaton County Sheriff's Office for the Feb. 28 killing of 17-year-old Deven Guilford following a confrontation that was partly captured by the officer's body camera and the boy's cell phone.

RELATED: Attorneys, family members of Tamir Rice asking for special prosecutor

Frost said Guilford attacked him, knocking him on his back and punching him in the face before he shot the boy. The fight itself was not caught on video. But Eaton County Prosecuting Attorney Douglas Lloyd reviewed other evidence, including wounds on Frost's face, and agreed with the officer's account, calling Guilford the aggressor and concluding that Frost acted in self-defense.

The boy's parents said they were confused and angered by that decision, claiming their son had never been in a fight before. Their lawsuit, they said, was driven by "outrage at the huge miscarriage of justice done to our son."

The lawsuit accuses Frost of violating Guilford's constitutional protections against unreasonable search and seizure. The lawsuit also accused Frost's department, the Eaton County Sheriff's Office, of failing to properly train its officers on how to conduct traffic stops and use force on suspects.

See more images of police shootings:

5 PHOTOS
Shootings by police, police brutality
See Gallery
Family of slain teen Deven Guilford sues Michigan cop for roadside shooting
Protesters hold placards against the killing of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile in Manhattan, New York, U.S., July 7, 2016. REUTERS/Bria Webb
People take part in a protest against the killings of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile during a march in New York July 7, 2016. REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz
NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 06: Demonstrators march through the streets protesting the Staten Island, New York grand jury's decision not to indict a police officer involved in the chokehold death of Eric Garner in July on December 6, 2014 in New York City. Protests are being staged nationwide after grand juries investigating the deaths of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri and Eric Garner in New York failed to indict the police officers involved in both incidents. (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)
A protest sign showing and image of Ezell Ford as members of the 'Black Lives Matter' alliance stage protest outside the Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti's home as they try to force him to fire LAPD Police Chief Charlie Beck, in Los Angeles, California on June 7, 2015. The alliance have renewed protests after a recent report from an LAPD watchdog determined that the August 11, 2014 officer-involved shooting death of 25-year-old Ezell Ford in South Central was justified. AFP PHOTO/ MARK RALSTON (Photo credit should read MARK RALSTON/AFP/Getty Images)
HIDE CAPTION
SHOW CAPTION
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE

The family's lawyers acknowledged in an interview with MSNBC that Guilford should have complied with Frost's instructions, but said it was Frost who escalated the situation unnecessarily.

The lawyers have described the killing as another chapter in the national debate over the use of deadly force by police.

"Deven's tragic and totally unnecessary death represents a disturbing trend of demanding 100 percent compliance with police authority, coupled with zero tolerance of risk of harm to police officers," lawyer Cynthia Heenan said in a statement. "Whatever happened to protect and serve?"

Lloyd declined to comment on the lawsuit, referring NBC News to his June report on the investigation, which said the traffic stop and attempted arrest of Guilford were proper.

Eaton County Sheriff Tom Reich issued a statement Friday saying that an internal review determined that Frost hadn't broken any departmental regulations, orders or training. He said he stood by those determinations, but had reviewed training programs and placed greater emphasis on "defensive tactics."

Guilford, a high school junior, was driving to his girlfriend's house after a Saturday night basketball game at a nearby church when he flashed his high beams at a police SUV driven by Frost, according to accounts provided by Guilford's family and police.

The boy told Frost he had flashed his lights because the officer's headlights appeared to be on high. Frost, driving a brand new patrol car, said his high beams were not on, and asked Guilford for his license and registration, according to Lloyd's report. Guilford repeatedly refused. It turned out that he had left his wallet at his girlfriend's.

Frost tried to pull Guilford out of the car, and when the boy resisted, the officer pulled out his Taser, according to the lawsuit and Lloyd's report. Frost ordered Guilford to the ground, and attempted to handcuff him. Soon after, Frost shot Guilford with his Taser, which didn't fully work. Guilford stood up.

In the ensuing fight, Frost's body cam cut out and Guilford's cell phone was left on the ground, recording only audio, according to Lloyd's report.

Seconds later, Frost opened fire.

The entire incident lasted about five minutes.

More from NBC News:
Lamar Odom Off Life Support and Spoke: Sources
'Slow' Typhoon Could Bring 6 Feet of Rain to Philippines
Would-Be Beauty Queens Face Threats as Miss Iraq Returns

Read Full Story

Sign up for Breaking News by AOL to get the latest breaking news alerts and updates delivered straight to your inbox.

Subscribe to our other newsletters

Emails may offer personalized content or ads. Learn more. You may unsubscribe any time.

From Our Partners

Man Suspects His Wife Is Cheating On Him - Then His Daughter Reveals What's Really Going Man Suspects His Wife Is Cheating On Him - Then His Daughter Reveals What's Really Going
20 Folks Recall Shocking Interview Moments That Made Them NOT Want the Job 20 Folks Recall Shocking Interview Moments That Made Them NOT Want the Job
Nature Gets Revenge On Safari Hunter Who Killed Elephants And Lions For Sport Nature Gets Revenge On Safari Hunter Who Killed Elephants And Lions For Sport