There will be no criminal charges filed against the Munising Police officer who fatally shot Timothy Mitchell following a high speed chase last month, but the case could still be up for civil litigation.
Munising Officer Justin Schlabach shot Mitchell twice in the chest following a chase at speeds exceeding 100 miles an hour. The chase came to an end after Mitchell's vehicle ran off the road on Buckhorn Road. Schlabach repeatedly told Mitchell to get on the ground. Mitchell refused the commands and continued aggressively approaching the officer saying "you're going to have to f-ing shoot me." According to State Police, Mitchell was unarmed.
Marquette County Prosecuting Attorney Matt Wiese attempted to contact the Mitchell family, and they declined to comment, directing Wiese to their attorney. Wiese did not interview Officer Schlabach, however his written statement closely matched the patrol car dash cam video.
"His statement, which he wrote right after the incident, he wrote without the benefit of evaluating the in car patrol video, and when I evaluated his statement with what was on the video it's nearly 100 percent spot on," says Wiese.
Wiese also says his role in this case was to look strictly at the criminal aspect. He says Michigan law is clear in a case like this.
"Any citizen who's present where they lawfully have a right to be does not have a duty to retreat under Michigan law. We have a stand your ground law, so anyone who feels honestly and reasonably that they are in fear of being seriously harmed, injured or killed has a right to use lethal force," added Wiese.
"I did not look at it ultimately as was this justified or unjustified, could there have been other things he could've done, we can all look back in hindsight but the bottom line is yeah, there very well could be a lawsuit against him or against the city," says Wiese. "The standard of proof for a lawsuit is a lot less than it is for proving somebody guilty beyond a reasonable doubt."
We have contacted the Munising Police Department for their comments, and they have not yet returned our call.