With tensions apparently high following the fatal shooting of a state trooper, Michigan State Police Trooper Timothy Wagner claims he was being extra cautious when he drew his firearm and pointed it at an 18-year-old woman during a traffic stop last month.
The incident, caught on Wagner’s dash cam, sparked allegations of excessive force and a formal investigation. Though no criminal charges were ever filed, even St. Joseph County Prosecutor John McDonough said in a statement that what he heard come out of the trooper’s mouth made him “sick to my stomach.”
The incident began after Wagner says he clocked the woman’s red Pontiac going 77 mph in a 55 mph zone. The dash cam video shows the trooper activating his lights and siren before pulling a quick U-turn to pull over the driver. About 45 seconds after the U-turn, the woman had pulled over to the side of the road.
The woman apparently claimed there was a report of a burglary at her residence and she was in a hurry to get home. Wagner confirmed the burglary report and eventually let the woman go with a ticket, though he said he “probably should” take her to jail.
After reviewing the case, McDonough decided there was not enough evidence to warrant criminal charges. However, he made his disapproval of the officer’s actions known.
In a statement provided to Detective 1st Lt. Chuck Christensen, Wagner explained why he reacted the way he did:
“Based on my 19+ years working road patrol chasing a vehicle for a mile with lights and siren activated to conduct a traffic stop is extraordinarily unusual,” Wagner said. “I have previously been involved in pursuits of this distance which resulted in the driver’s subsequent attempt to flee on foot. I therefore considered this incident an attempt to Flee & Elude, which is a felony, and positioned myself to intercept the driver should they flee on foot.”