Prosecutor: MI trooper should be fired, but not charged, for pointing gun at woman
A southwestern Michigan prosecutor called for the firing of a state trooper who pointed a gun last month at an 18-year-old woman during a traffic stop.
Video posted online by the Kalamazoo Gazette shows the trooper, identified as Timothy Wagner, leaving his patrol car with his weapon drawn after pursuing the driver on U.S. 12 for two miles for speeding.
Wagner told investigators he drew his weapon because the driver had not stopped, and he was thinking of the September 2013 fatal shooting of a fellow trooper during a traffic stop.
“With the recent incident involving the murder of Tpr. Paul Butterfield while approaching a vehicle at the forefront of my mind I elected to ‘clear’ the vehicle for my safety as I feel the vehicle could have suddenly pulled to the side in an effort to lure me into a vulnerable position where I could easily be shot,” Wagner told investigators.
Authorities said the woman was driving 77 miles per hour in a 55 mph zone and stopped about 35 seconds after the trooper activated his lights and siren.
The driver holds her empty hands outside the car window as the trooper approaches and points the gun just a couple of feet away from her head.
She eventually gets out of the car, and Wagner places the driver in handcuffs and takes her to his patrol car for questioning.
The woman told Wagner she was rushing home because her father had called to say their home was burglarized, and the trooper confirmed that with dispatchers.
“I chased you for two miles with my lights and sirens at almost 80 mph. Do you see a problem with that?” Wagner asked her.
“Yes, I do,” the woman said. “I honestly didn’t see you.”
Wagner asks how she liked “having a gun pointed” at her, although some of his words were inaudible after that point.
St. Joseph County Prosecutor John McDonough, who reviewed the incident at the request of state police, said that statement showed Wagner, a 19-year veteran state trooper, should be fired.
“When he asked if she enjoyed having a gun pointed at her I became sick to my stomach,” McDonough said in a statement. “I do not want Trooper Wagner to have the opportunity to do anything like this again and certainly not in St. Joseph County.”
However, the prosecutor declined to charge Wagner with felonious assault or conduct unbecoming a public official, saying the traffic stop did not warrant criminal charges.
Wagner was placed on paid administrative leave pending an internal investigation, which remains ongoing.
Watch dashboard camera video of the incident posted online by the Kalamazoo Gazette: