Originally published on June 18, 2015, at NationofChange.org
An Eaton County prosecutor decided on Tuesday not to issue criminal charges against an officer who shot and killed an unarmed high school student during a traffic stop. While attempting to notify a sergeant that his high beams were possibly on, 17-year-old Deven Guilford was detained, pulled out of his vehicle, and shot with a Taser before losing his life in a violent struggle. Both Guilford’s cellphone and the sergeant’s body camera recorded the incident as events rapidly spiraled out of control.
After dropping his brother off at a church in Grand Ledge, Michigan, Deven Guilford noticed an approaching police vehicle that appeared to be driving with its high beams on by mistake at 8:25 p.m. on February 28. In an attempt to notify the driver of the police SUV, Guilford flashed his high beams twice at Eaton County Sgt. Jonathan Frost. Although two other drivers had flashed their high beams at Sgt. Frost earlier that night to warn him of his new vehicle’s extremely bright headlights, Sgt. Frost decided to pull over Guilford.
According to the video recorded from Sgt. Frost’s body cam, he exited his patrol car and announced, “Stopping this car for flashing me with their brights. I did not have my brights on.”
As Frost approached Guilford’s vehicle, he requested the teenager’s driver’s license, registration, and proof of insurance while informing Guilford that he had been pulled over for flashing his high beams. Although it is illegal to flash your high beams at an oncoming vehicle, Guilford explained that he believed Frost had been driving with his high beams on and possibly endangering lives. Instead of initially admitting two other drivers had also warned Frost about his bright headlights earlier that night, Frost repeatedly ordered Guilford to hand over his identification.
Instead of producing his documents, Guilford asked to see Frost’s identification and badge number. When Frost refused to show Guilford his badge number, the teen pulled out his cellphone and began recording the incident as Frost called for backup. Guilford held up his phone and told Frost, “I am video and audio recording for my safety and your safety.”