Family Appeals Wrongful Death Lawsuit Against GT County Deputy

Jan 8, 2014

An October jury verdict has not ended a civil court battle over the 2007 death of an Interlochen man by police bullet. The family has appealed to the U.S. Sixth Circuit.

Craig Carlson died by a single bullet from a police sniper after an all-night standoff at his home. The family says he was mentally ill and suicidal. He was also heavily armed and the sharpshooter who fired on Carlson testified he believed the man was a threat to other officers.

“I don’t see any basis for overturning the jury verdict,” says Attorney Chris Cooke, who represents Grand Traverse County and Deputy Charlie Jetter. “It was a unanimous verdict in less than two hours and I think the plaintiff had a full and fair opportunity to litigate every issue that he raised with respect to Deputy Jetter.”

The jury absolved Jetter of any wrongdoing in the death of Craig Carlson. 

The Carlson family attorney says the court wrongly excluded a key piece of evidence at trial. Grant Parsons also wants the chance to argue commanders on the scene violated Carlson’s Constitutional rights. Those claims were dismissed before the trial began.

“It just is a Constitutional, really important issue about police policy and police force,” he says.

Parsons argues use of tear gas and other tactics at the scene violated Carlson’s rights, and escalated the standoff. The county and commanders at the scene, including former Sheriff Scott Fewins, were dismissed as defendants in the case before it went to trial.

Police say the man was an immediate threat to nearby officers.

A special prosecutor long ago ruled the shooting justified.

A settlement conference is scheduled for September.