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The parents of a 17-year-old teen are suing the Michigan police officer who shot and killed their son during a roadside encounter, claiming the cop violated the teen's civil rights during the stop that began when the teen flashed his lights at the officer's car.
The family of Deven Guilford, a high school junior, are also suing Eaton county after prosecutors failed to charge the officer, Sgt. Jonathan Frost, in the February 28 encounter that ended with the teen being shot seven times.
Frost claims Guilford had punched him in the face during the stop and that he had acted in self-defense. But the teen's family said Guilford had never been in a fight and accused frost of violating their son's constitutional protections against unreasonable search and seizure.
Video of the incident partially captured on Guilford's cell phone and Frost's bodycam do not show the purported punch or ensuing skirmish.
Guilford was driving to his girlfriend's house in Roxand Township when he flashed his high beams at Frost's patrol car, according to the police and statements made by the teen's family.
After Frost pulled the teen over, Guilford said he had flashed his lights because the cop's headlights were on high beam. Frost said that his high beams were not on and demanded Guilford's license and registration, to which the teen repeatedly refused, prosecutors said.
In the video Guilford can be heard saying: "You had your brights on, sir. I'm not lying to you. I was just doing that to be polite. I didn't want you to flash someone and have someone go off the road and crash."
Frost said: "Do you realize that if you had complied with this traffic stop, it would have gone a whole different way for you?"
Frost then tries to pull Guilford out of the car. The teen resisted and the officer used his Taser to subdue him, which did not fully work, the lawsuit said. During the ensuing scuffle, the officer's bodycam cut out and the teen's cell phone dropped to the ground and only continued to record audio.
"Deven's tragic and totally unnecessary death represents a disturbing trend of demanding 100 percent compliance with police authority, coupled with zero tolerance of risk of harm to police officers," the family's lawyer Cynthia Heenan said in a statement. "Whatever happened to protect and serve?"
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