The house where Oscar Herrera was shot in April.
Col­legian | Logan Washburn

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.