Family Sues After Unarmed Teen Killed in Traffic Stop

It all started when Deven Guilford flashed his brights
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 16, 2015 1:27 PM CDT

At around 8pm on Feb. 28, Michigan 17-year-old Deven Guilford flashed his brights at an Eaton County Sheriff's sergeant's SUV because he thought the SUV's high-beams were on, which made it hard for him to see. Sgt. Jonathan Frost turned around and pulled Guilford over, and the traffic stop ended with the unarmed Guilford dead after being shot seven times by Frost. The Eaton County Prosecutor ultimately cleared Frost of any criminal wrongdoing, and now, four months after that, Guilford's family has filed a federal lawsuit against Frost and the county, the Detroit Free Press reports. "Deven's tragic and totally unnecessary death represents a disturbing trend of demanding 100% compliance with police authority, coupled with zero tolerance of risk of harm to police officers," says an attorney from the law firm representing the family. The lawsuit seeks a jury trial.

Video of the incident shows Guilford and Frost arguing over whether Frost's brights were on—Frost explains that the SUV is new and the headlights are brighter than usual, and that he also pulled over several other people who flashed him to explain this; the lawsuit notes that Frost stopped two other drivers that day for the same reason, even though it is not illegal to flash your brights at another vehicle, Courthouse News reports. Guilford refuses to turn over his license, registration, and insurance information; Frost refuses to give Guilford his badge number and calls for backup. Frost ultimately pulls Guilford from the car and orders him to lie on his stomach, but when Guilford won't put his hands behind his back, Frost tases him. An altercation ensues that ends with Guilford's death; Frost sustained facial injuries. Guilford was later found to have THC in his system at the time of the stop, but his brother calls his death "senseless." "Deven was listening to Frost's commands, he never swore or used any profane language," he says. "He was confused and he never received any respect in return." (More police shooting stories.)

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