Mattawan police officer charged after shooting at stolen vehicle

PAW PAW, Mich. – A Mattawan police officer who allegedly shot at a car during a pursuit has been charged with Reckless Use of a Firearm.

The Van Buren County Prosecutor says Officer Chelsey Omilian was arraigned Friday.  The misdemeanor charge carries a potential of a 90-day jail sentence and $500 fine.

The incident happened on November 3 in Mattawan when the officer stopped a vehicle that had been stolen.  Three people were in the vehicle. A chase ensued and the officer fired a shot to try and stop the car.  One of the people in the vehicle was injured.

The driver of the stolen vehicle, Gary Kingsbury, has been charged and arraigned on two counts of Unlawful Use of a Motor Vehicle and Resisting and Obstructing Police.  He is currenly in the Van Buren County Jail.

Omilian has been on administrative leave since the incident.  She turned herself into the court Friday and was released on a personal recognizance bond.


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    • Awe

      That doesn’t authorize use of deadly force. Might have done society a favor if she hit the driver, but the only time cops can shoot in scenarios like this is when they themselves are endangered.

      • Michael

        “The only time cops can shoot in scenarios like this is when they themselves are endangered”

        Not quite but close! The landmark case for this is Tennessee v Garner. It states an officer can only use deadly force to stop a fleeing felon when the officer has probable cause to believe the suspect poses significant threat of death or serious injury to the officer or public.

        There’s many cases of an officer legally shooting a fleeing suspect to prevent their escape- but they have to justify in their report why their escape would have posed a serious risk to the public.

        That being said the officer here shot a backseat passenger of the stolen vehicle. Police are accountable for every round they fire. There’s not a lot of ways she could have justified shooting a backseat passenger to stop a fleeing vehicle. It sounds like the charge is appropriate.

        I’m curios if she was by herself already. Many small departments don’t put their new hires through a full FTO (training) period. Current standards for a new hire without any prior experience is 3-6 months. If she was on her own both the victim and the officer can go after Mattawan for failure to train. (There’s a Supreme Court case that deals with that as well)

        • Anthony

          Well if it poses a threat to themselves or the public the use of deadly physical force is authorized. It’s in the quote you just posted! In any case it really depends what state you are in. Should she have shot should she not have….can’t answer that based on this narrative. Again too many arm chair quarterbacks. If you weren’t there you shouldn’t even comment. Period.

          • Michael

            Of course it’s in the quote I posted- I was correcting an earlier incorrect statement that said the ONLY time an officer could shoot was when they are endangered.

            I was attempting to prevent an argument by even naming the case. Unfortunately reading comprehension isn’t everyone’s strong suit.

          • Ben There

            TN V Garner is a US Supreme Court decision that impacts police use of force in every state in the union. From the comments, Michael, whoever he is, is a knowledgeable and skilled in the legal aspects of police work, and the relevant application of force. When GRPD fired at Dantzler while he was fleeing several years ago, it’s because they knew he was actively looking for people to kill. Unless something comes to light that states this driver was going to kill or injure others if the police terminated the pursuit, which I doubt or they wouldn’t have charged her, reckless discharge of a gun is the least of her worries. And yes Mattawan is probably one of these small towns where training is considered complete if you completed a police academy in the last 20 years. I know a person that applied for a part time spot with them. Master’s degree 20 plus years experience, former commander, and a use of force instructor. The chief was in hot water and probably tossed the app thinking he would have been hiring his replacement. I guess I can’t blame him. But, he would’ve had someone on his force that wouldn’t have been Dirty Harrying these types of situations. Chief Herbert has been on the hot seat awhile, and the stove hasn’t been turned on yet compared to what’s coming now. That’s the most expensive round he has ever bought as a chief.

  • gonk

    The real story is… “How much more do you burden well intentioned public safety officers with personal liability before you cannot attract good talent into the profession?”. What happens when most cops are corrupt or incompetent as opposed to the vast minority.

  • Caren Wierenga

    Given the close proximity to the Mattawan Consolidated School System and all of the students and teaching staff that would have been in emininent danger had these theives been allowed to engage in a high-speed chase, I fully support this officer’s actions.
    Holding an officer like this accountable for the poor choices of three delinquents, I don’t care WHICH offender was injured, I feel that she stopped the immediate threat to both the school and students as well as other people.
    These thieves were apprehended almost immediately, and got exactly what they deserved.
    Shame on the Mattawan Police Department for not holding the people responsible for this incident and not backing their officer.
    How many GOOD officers will walk from their jobs because of the threat to their own lives and jobs, not to mention the safety of the community at large had these hoodlums been allowed to escape?
    Perhaps the police powers that be would have preferred a high-speed escape, seeing how access to both east- and west-bound I-94 was right there? How many more lives would have been endangered then?
    Seems as if this officer couldn’t have had a win/win resolution no matter WHAT choice she made.
    To the car thieves all I will say is play stupid games, win stupid prizes. You steal a car? Expect some problems.

    • Matt

      They may have been criminals but they still have rights. Unless they were posing an immediate risk to the school i.e. Trying to get inside. Or run kids over on the playground things of that nature an officer shouldn’t be shooting at them. And the person in the back seat that was injured from the shot may not have had anything to do with stealing the car. Not very likely but possible. Everybody thinks cops can go all Wyatt Earp and start shooting at any criminal they want. Well they can’t even police have to obey laws.

    • Ben There

      Caren the support is appreciated. Heck GRPD can’t even cuff an 11 year old coming out of a house where a suspected attempted murderer is hiding without taking guff. Never mind the next day they arrest a different 11 year old for stabbing her mother and sister. As much though as I would appreciate your support on the 11 yr old situation, and the pursuit situation, the decision to fire at a car full of people without anything more than a stolen car as the offense, is not supported by current police protocol. Obviously I am as pro police as you can get, but I’m also professionally objective. Cuff everyone at an attempted murder scene as GRPD did, do not shoot at fleeing cars where no further harm independent of the terminated pursuit presents itself was wrong in Mattawan’s case. You can disagree as it is well within your rights. Just realize you’re disagreeing with 30 years of experience, a force instructor, and a former police executive with years on the street. While you can disagree, just let me know if you and I are on the same plane, and you disagree with the way the pilot is flying. No disrespect but I’d rather have the pilot in the cockpit then someone who has a feeling that they know it better.