No charges for officer in death of Michigan teen struck by police car during chase

A prosecutor declined to file charges Tuesday against a police officer who struck and killed a western Michigan teenager while the boy was running from a stolen vehicle.

Kent County prosecutor Chris Becker played a video for reporters and said he found no evidence of intentional deadly force. He instead charged the driver of the stolen vehicle, another teen, with causing death while fleeing from police.

Riley Doggett, 17, was hit by a patrol car driven by a sheriff's deputy at the end of a high-speed chase in Kent and Ottawa counties on April 8. He died from head injuries on May 9.

Doggett and another teenager were fleeing on foot from a stolen Range Rover after the vehicle crashed into parked cars in a business area.

Becker said the deputy believed Doggett was dangerous and pursued him in a parking lot at 22 mph (36 kph). The teen was holding a phone, not a gun.

“He's trying to cut him off,” the prosecutor said of the officer. “He didn't do it appropriately and hit him, maybe cut it too close, and obviously there are tragic results.”

One of Doggett's shoes came off and there were black marks, probably from a tire, on his lower leg, Becker noted.

Before speaking to reporters, Becker met with Doggett's family and showed them dashcam video.

“They clearly thought the deputy should be charged. I wasn’t expecting them to agree,” he said.

Ven Johnson, an attorney for the family, said he would ask the state attorney general to review the case for possible charges.

“It's not even a close call,” Johnson said. “This officer intended to hit this kid.”

Johnson last week had publicly urged authorities to release video and other details, saying the family had been in the dark for too long.

Even if the teen had done “something stupid,” he didn't deserve to be a victim of “illegal, unnecessary, deadly force,” Johnson said Friday, a few hours before a memorial service for Doggett.

Doggett's mother, Becky Wilbert, said he was a “good kid,” regardless of the circumstances that preceded his death.

“He was funny. He was smart. He excelled in school,” Wilbert said. “He always was cracking jokes, making everybody laugh. He was the piece of our family that held everybody together.”


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