The mother of a man killed by a Hillsdale County Sheriff’s deputy in April is suing the Hillsdale County Sheriff’s Office.
Guadalupe Herrera filed the lawsuit on behalf of her son, Oscar Herrera, on Sept. 13. It names Hillsdale County Sheriff Scott Hodshire and Deputy Adam Burlew as defendants.
Guadalupe Herrera’s lawyers allege that Burlew is guilty of negligence, along with assault and battery, during an incident which resulted in Herrera’s death.
Attorney Ian Fallon with Romanucci and Blandin, based in Chicago, said that the group is filing “a civil suit for the constitutional violations that led to Oscar Herrera’s wrongful death” in a video of a press conference on the group’s website.
The plaintiff claims in the lawsuit that Burlew violated the Fourth Amendment by using excessive force, as well as the 14th Amendment for not rendering Herrera with medical aid after shooting him.
Guadalupe Herrera’s legal team also accused Hodshire of unconstitutional training policies in the suit.
On April 28, Burlew responded to Herrera’s residence near Reading due to calls about a “dog at large,” which is defined as an “unrestrained wandering or roaming animal” according to county ordinance.
“Oscar was peacefully spending a Wednesday night at home with his dog Rico, when Deputy Adam Burlew of the Hillsdale County Sheriff’s Department entered onto his property looking for an uncontrolled or loose dog,” Fallon said in the press conference. “When he got there, it was clear that there was no dog on the loose.”
When Burlew allegedly realized there was no dog on the loose, according to Fallon, he should have left the premises. At that point, he said, the deputy had no probable cause to continue the investigation.
Burlew continued to roam around Herrera’s property in search of a confrontation, Fallon said.
“Ultimately, Oscar is shot three times by Deputy Burlew after he takes a few steps toward the officer and moves his hands in front of his stomach,” he said.
According to a Michigan State Police press release, however, the dog immediately attacked Burlew after he arrived on the scene.
“The deputy was immediately attacked by the dog and bit. The deputy fired shots at the dog which resulted in the killing of the dog,” the statement reads. “The owner of the residence and dog was upset at the deputy for the dog being killed, and armed with a knife, confronted the deputy. The suspect was shot by the deputy and died from the injuries.”
In bodycam footage obtained by Kalamazoo News Channel 3, Herrera confronted Burlew, upset about his dog’s death. As the deputy held Herrera at bay with a taser, the man appeared to reach for something in his pocket. Burlew told him to stop.
“Do not do that. Sir, put that down right now,” Burlew said.
The video shows the deputy lowering the taser and firing multiple shots at Herrera.
MSP Lt. Brian Oleksyk said in an email that after conducting a preliminary investigation, the state police turned the case over to the Hillsdale County Prosecutor’s Office on June 25.
“After reviewing our investigation, the Hillsdale County Prosecutor’s office determined that there was no criminal wrongdoing by the deputy involved,” he said.