Jackson County Prosecutor Jerard Jarzynka has released a report in the death of Clark Lake resident Phillip (P.J.) Dawson. The review is “limited to the issue of criminal culpability” on the part of the Columbia Police officers’ use of force in the arrest of Dawson on May 13, 2023, at approximately 9 pm outside the Russell Court residence. The arrest was made by Columbia Township Police Officer Jacob Mills and Reserve Officers Spencer Bennett, and resulted in Dawson “suffering a cardiac arrest and being taken to the local hospital and put on life support.” On May 18, he was taken off life support and was pronounced dead.
The arrest was subsequently investigated independently by the Michigan State Police. Their report was forwarded to the prosecutor, who reviewed the evidence. He concluded “there is no evidence to show that either officer used excessive force to effectuate the arrest in this case.” Further the prosecutor states “the use of force used in this incident would certainly not rise to the level necessary to render criminal charges against the police officers.”
Prosecutor Jarzynka indicates the Michigan State Police report revealed the following:
The prosecutor’s conclusion:
The police officer and reserve officer have both been restored to full duty. They had been on administrated leave since the incident.
Columbia Township Police Chief Jay Niles says “I value the independent investigation by the Michigan State Police and the prosecutor’s review. This is a vital asset to the transparency of the criminal justice system. I appreciate their time and effort in bringing this to resolution.”