Police body cameras show a Michigan State Police trooper punching and knocking out a handcuffed Saginaw man

SAGINAW, MI — In March, Saginaw resident Vance D. Martin was arrested by Michigan State Police troopers after he apparently sped and ran through two stop signs. In the next half hour, things escalated to the point where a soldier repeatedly punched a handcuffed Martin in the face.

Months later, two MSP soldiers and two officers from the Saginaw Police Department face criminal charges stemming from their interaction with Martin.

While video footage of the incident recorded by a civilian bystander had previously been posted on MLive, the Saginaw Police Department has now released footage recorded by its officers.

Via a Freedom of Information Act request, MLive-The Saginaw News obtained four videos totaling approximately 90 minutes. The cumulative footage was recorded by cameras carried by Saginaw police officers Jordan Engelhart and Dominic Vasquez and the dashboard-mounted cameras of their vehicles.

The footage begins with Engelhart and Vasquez arriving at the scene of a traffic stop initiated by MSP soldiers in the 2300 block of Annesley Street around 7:15 p.m. on March 28. Already stopped by the soldiers is a red Pontiac Grand Am, with 47-year-old Martin – the driver – already standing outside the car, his wrists cuffed behind his back as the soldiers searched him.

Engelhart orders an adult male passenger out of the car, then handcuffs him as well.

When this happens, Martin repeatedly asks why he was arrested and professes his innocence of any wrongdoing.

“They don’t have body cameras or anything,” Martin said, referring to the soldiers.

“I have a body camera, boss,” Engelhart told him. “You’re okay.”

Engelhart then frisks the passenger in the Pontiac, pulling items from his pockets. Meanwhile, MSP troopers Bram L. Schroeder and Zachary W. Tebedo attempt to put Martin in the back seat of one of their patrol cars, with Tebedo holding a Taser towards Martin as he does so.

Engelhart encourages Martin to get into the car as he resists, assuring him that everything is on camera.

“Get in the car, man,” an officer said.

“I’m about to, but this guy is about to…”

Schroeder then punches Martin once squarely in the face, knocking him to the ground, his knees bent beneath him.

Martin moans loudly as officers ask him about his breathing. Officers also radioed medical personnel to the scene.

Moments later, Vasquez is standing next to Martin as he sits on the ground, leaning against the passenger-side rear tire of the MSP patrol car. Vasquez speaks with him, offering to help him stand. Vasquez assures him that his camera is on.

“I’m with the city police,” Vasquez said. “It’s not my gig, mate. I’m here, if you want help, I’ll help you. If you want help, I’ll help you.

Martin asks Vasquez to let him out of the handcuffs but the officer replies he can’t. After several minutes, Vasquez and a soldier hoist Martin to his feet and lean him against the side of the patrol car.

Several minutes after Schroeder hits Martin, mobile medical response personnel arrive and speak with Martin. He expresses his confusion but declines their offer to take him to the hospital.

The officers then resume trying to get Martin into their car as he repeatedly yells that he doesn’t know what’s going on.

“That (expletive) is trying to kill me,” Martin yells, after which Schroeder punches him two or three more times in the face. This second round of punches comes about 14 minutes after Schroeder first punched Martin.

Martin falls to the ground again and continues to shout at civilian passers-by. Officers then place Martin in the back of the patrol car.

Police reports previously obtained by MLive from MSP via Freedom of Information Act State Troopers noted the Pontiac turning eastbound onto Annesley Street at high speed. The soldiers’ radar indicated that the Pontiac was traveling at 46 mph in a 25 mph zone, according to their reports.

Soldiers stopped the Pontiac in the 2300 block of Annesley Street after Martin failed to stop at two stop signs. The soldiers wrote in their reports that Martin was uncooperative, failing to provide identification or exit the Pontiac.

Police searched the Pontiac and found open bottles of Michelob Ultra and Seagram’s Extra Smooth Vodka. The soldiers wrote in their reports that Martin had bloodshot eyes, smelled strongly of intoxicants, had slurred speech, was lethargic and exhibited severe mood swings, leading them to believe he was in drunk. They were unable to administer a preliminary breathalyzer test to Martin at the scene.

Martin slept in the soldiers’ car as they drove him to Covenant HealthCare for an evaluation and chemical blood test. The results of the blood test have not been made public.

The MSP’s professional standards section investigated the matter, with Schroeder placed on paid administrative leave on March 29 and Tebedo placed on leave on August 23. The Saginaw County District Attorney’s Office received the investigation report on April 26, which it then forwarded to the Michigan District Attorney. General’s office, asking a special prosecutor to take the case. The AG’s office accepted the case in early May.

On August 31, Schroeder, Tebedo, Engelhart and Vasquez appeared in Saginaw County District Court to be arraigned. Schroeder is charged with misconduct in the line of duty and aggravated assault. The former is a felony punishable by five years in prison and a $10,000 fine, while the latter is a one-year misdemeanor.

Tebedo, Engelhart and Vasquez each face one count of dereliction of duty, also a one-year misdemeanor.

Engelhart and Vasquez remain on duty, with their leader and colleagues expressing their support.

“I support my officers 100 percent,” Saginaw Police Chief Robert M. Ruth said. “I’m sure they’ll be vindicated of that as we go down the road.”

Detective Phil Graves, president of the Saginaw Police Officers Association, said the union supports Engelhart and Vasquez.

“We’ve had contact with various community leaders and they’re all on the same page as us — our guys don’t deserve this,” Graves said at a Sept. 1 press conference. “We want to make it clear that our guys are not the ones who committed this assault. None of our executives or board members agree with what (Schroeder) did.

The Saginaw Police Department conducted an internal investigation, concluding that its officers did not violate any policies or procedures. Engelhart and Vasquez went through their training, Graves said.

“They tried many de-escalation techniques,” he said. “They carried out medical aid. They contacted the doctor. They contacted the supervisors. They wrote reports. They followed our policies for what we are supposed to do in these types of situations.

Regarding the prosecution’s allegation that Engelhart and Vasquez did not intervene, Graves said they had no opportunity to do so.

“It was quick and it came out of nowhere,” Graves said of the onslaught. “They can’t read (Schroeder’s) mind. I think the opportunity did not present itself properly. If it had been ongoing assaults, I absolutely think they would have intervened, no doubt. It happened, it’s over. »

Terry Pruitt, president of the Saginaw NAACP branch, who watched the video footage with other community leaders, said the general feeling among viewers was that Schroeder’s actions warranted charges, but not those of Tebedo and the officers. of Saginaw.

“Based on my personal perspective, I did not see anything Saginaw officers did that would be in violation of policies or rules,” Pruitt said.

Pastor Robert Davis Jr. of the Saginaw Citizens Advisory Committee, who also viewed the video footage, described the incident as an unfortunate situation.

“It’s unfortunate because Mr. Martin is clearly handcuffed and assaulted by this state trooper, it’s out of place and certainly in bad taste,” Davis said. “What I see with what happened in this situation, the soldier was not, for me, properly prepared to handle this moment. The police officers in the city, from what I saw and I I’m limited on everything that happened, they just seemed to be lending a hand. Of course, it seems like they’re blindsided by what happened. We’re just waiting to see the outcome.

Martin has not been charged with any crime related to the March 28 case.

Schroeder is due to appear for a preliminary examination at 9 a.m. on Nov. 3. The cases of Tebedo, Vasquez and Engelhart are set for preliminary hearings on October 20.

Read more:

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