Police case handling questioned by citizen – 90-year-old woman assaulted by another woman
By John Hummer
Exponent staff writer
A citizen spoke out last week at the Napoleon Township board meeting about how an assault and battery case against his 90-year-old grandmother was handled by the township police department.
The citizen, named Kyle, whose last name could not be identified, brought his grandmother and eight-year-old daughter to the meeting as well.
“Her attacker was a 50-some year-old woman who attacked my grandmother in front of witnesses,” he said. “My grandmother spent two days in the hospital. Three weeks later, nothing has been done. Her attacker wasn’t even arrested at the time. Even she (the suspect) admitted to them that she had attacked my grandmother. My grandmother could have been killed.
“I try to teach my children that if you hurt someone, you go to jail,” he continued. “I urge our community to do the right thing. If we do not have a police chief that will stand up for our rights, then we need a new one. This [matter], of elderly abuse is just wrong.”
“It’s pretty much without merit in my opinion,” said Napoleon Township police Chief Duaine Pittman.
“The entire family is very upset and I don’t blame them for that,” he said.
Pittman said the grandmother’s boyfriend’s daughter showed up at their house on July 17 and wanted to stay with them.
“There was an argument and she pushed her way by or pushed the grandmother down, depending on which version you believe,” he said. “Grandma fell and was injured. She was taken to the hospital and treated for her injuries.”
Pittman said the officer that responded to the incident determined that it was not a domestic assault but rather an assault and battery case. The officer brought the suspect to the NPD for an interview and issued her a disorderly citation for her conduct. She was then released.
“In that case, if it didn’t occur in front of the officer, we’re not allowed to arrest for a misdemeanor not committed in our presence, with the exception of domestic assault, drunk driving, and a few other [instances] that the law allows us to,” he said.
Pittman explained how the department handles such cases.
“We do interviews, follow up on the case, and then send it to the prosecutor for review. They determine what charges are appropriate. That’s exactly what we did.”
Oddly, Pittman said the victim’s grandson came to the Napoleon Police Department office around 2 p.m. the day of the board meeting, Aug. 8, and thanked him for doing a good job.
“He thanked me and what not, and that’s why I was kind of blindsided by the accusations,” he said.
Pittman signed the warrant at 10:15 a.m. the day of the meeting.
“It was entered in the LEIN (a law enforcement computer system) and we were going to make sure that we would get her picked up as soon as possible,” he said.
In the meantime, Pittman said he received several phone calls from the grandson and the family.
“They’re irate and I get it,” he said, adding the officers followed procedure.
“On July 24, the officer went out and re-interviewed the victim to make sure she had the story completely straight,” Pittman said, adding that at that time the victim said she didn’t want to prosecute, but said the suspect “needed help.”
“We were going to send it to the prosecutor’s office anyway,” Pittman said. “We’re not going to allow that kind of situation to happen and we’ll see what the prosecutor says.”
On July 27, the report was emailed to the prosecutor’s office. Pittman said the grandson was irate with the delay in getting the case to the prosecutor’s office. The NPD happened to be short-staffed due to a family emergency on the intervening days, Pittman said.
On Aug. 4, Pittman received an email from the prosecutor’s office that the charges had been filed, and a warrant issued for assault and battery. On Aug. 8, Officer Boatman from the NPD contacted the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office and asked that a deputy pick up the suspect at her home in Grass Lake Township.
However, Boatman advised Pittman that the county jail refused to take the suspect due to her being on blood thinners and that she had a cardiologist appointment the next morning. The suspect was advised to turn herself into the court as soon as possible.