A Saginaw Valley State University student was charged with a felony because he waited for a brightly lit area to stop instead of immediately pulling over when police signaled.
DaJuawn Wallace, 24, explained to Mlive.com that he was making a 2 a.m. trip to the store on Feb. 19 to pick up medicine for his girlfriend when he noticed a car accelerating from behind.
When the officer behind him activated his lights and siren, Wallace said that he moved into the right lane and signaled to the officer by sticking his hand out the window.
“I live in Detroit, and I know some people who were robbed by fake police officers,” Wallace noted. “I was taught to find a well-lit area to pullover in.”
“I was not speeding up, turning off my lights or trying to get away,” he added.
Wallace pulled over in a Sam’s Club parking lot 1.5 miles from where officers first activated their lights. The Saginaw County prosecutor’s office charged one felony count of fleeing and eluding.
In his police report, Saginaw Valley State University Police Officer Leon Wilson wrote that he pulled over Wallace because he his vehicle resembled one that had been seen driving on a SVSU campus sidewalk. Wilson, however, said that he was not able to see the make or model of the vehicle, and that Wallace’s car “looked like the same color and was leaving the immediate area.”
“The driver made no attempt to pull over and stop,” Wilson wrote. “I observed the driver stick his hands out of the window a couple of times. I did not see the driver throw anything from the vehicle, though it was dark and the road was poorly lit.”
Wallace said that he felt like an older driver or a female driver would not have been hit with a felony charge for doing the same thing.
At a June 12 hearing, Saginaw County Chief Prosecutor Christopher Boyd offered to dismiss the felony charge if Wallace would plead guilty to a misdemeanor charge with a delayed sentence. The plea would allow Wallace’s charges to be dismissed if he stays out of trouble and completes one year of probation.
But Wallace rejected the offer, pointing out that a guilty plea would have a negative impact on his future.
“Most people will say fine, thank you for not sending me to jail. Well, that will be detrimental to me,” he observed. “If I had to take a plea for a felony, I would be forced to resign my job, and I wouldn’t be able to get financial aid, and I wouldn’t be able to do anything with my degree. Even still with the misdemeanor.”
“I feel like I didn’t do anything wrong,” he added. “I feel as if it’s a way to get me on papers.”
Wallace, who is expected to graduate from a master’s program for health administration next year, has until July 9 to accept Boyd’s plea deal.
Watch dash cam video below.