Police officer involved in shooting charged with two felonies by Michigan Attorney General
UPDATE, 4:30 p.m. March 9, 2021: This story has been updated with a statement from the fraternal police presence.
KENT COUNTY, MI – A police officer involved in a shooting incident last summer faces three charges, including two crimes, the Michigan attorney general said Tuesday.
Police officer Jason Diaz has been charged with assault with intent to cause less assault than murder, which is a ten year crime, and an officer misconduct, five year crime, Attorney General Dana Nessel announced March 9th known.
He is also facing a two year felony charge for carelessly unloading an injured weapon.
Diaz was employed by the Lowell Police Department at the time of the incident.
Diaz was involved in a high-speed car chase in Kent and Ionia counties on August 29, 2020 when he allegedly shot a passenger in the head, according to a press release from Nessel’s office.
According to the Attorney General, his actions violated both the law and the guidelines of the Lowell Police Department.
Diaz was tried in the Ionia District Court on Tuesday. The deposit was set at 10 percent of $ 50,000.
Nessel noted that since taking office in 2018, she has dedicated herself to investigating shootings involving officials.
After last year’s shooting, the officer was put on paid administrative leave while the Ionia County sheriff’s office investigated, the Lowell city administrator said in a post-shooting press release.
A statement from the City of Lowell revealed that Diaz no longer works for the department. However, a press release from the Michigan Fraternal Order of Police states that Diaz was cleared of the wrongdoing after an investigation and resumed patrol for the department “a few weeks ago”.
Chris Hurst, the Lowell Police Chief, could not be reached for comment.
“In our judicial system everyone enters on the presumption of innocence until proven otherwise in a court of law,” said Mary Ann Sabo, a city spokeswoman, in a prepared statement. “Although this person is not currently employed in the city, they could reapply for a position in the department or the city until the case is resolved.”
RELATED: Officer Shoots Stolen Vehicle After Lowell Chases 100 Mph, Police Says
When MLive contacted Sabo to confirm the official’s current status with the city, she said he resigned after being on administrative leave.
The fraternal police force is providing a criminal defense attorney, in this case Marc Curtis of Muskegon, to “vigorously” defend Diaz, the union said in its press release.
“Officer Jason Diaz, like thousands of other officials, goes to work in Michigan every day to protect the public and stop crime,” the press release said. “The work they do is tough and requires them to make split-second decisions while giving others the luxury of guessing them for months and even years.”
A Lowell City press release in the hours following the incident shed light on what happened:
The policeman, who was on patrol in downtown Lowell, noticed a vehicle with high beams at around 2 a.m. on August 29. The policeman flashed his lights to alert the driver, who did not dim his lights in response.
After realizing that the vehicle had no license plate, the officer turned on his lights to drive over the suspicious vehicle. The vehicle did not stop and accelerated at a speed of over 100 miles per hour.
The suspicious vehicle, which was later classified as stolen, eventually pulled up on a dirt road in Ionia County’s Boston Township. After the officer got out of his vehicle to approach the suspect, the driver turned his vehicle around and headed straight for the officer.
The officer responded by shooting at the vehicle, and the suspect’s vehicle hit the patrol car before escaping the scene. It was eventually found abandoned in a ditch.
Using a drone, law enforcement officers located six suspects who were taken into custody, although one was later released, Lowell City manager Michael Burns told MLive.
One suspect was treated for a minor gunshot wound in the arm and a second suspect was treated for a rubbing on his forehead.
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