Skip to comments.Justifiable homicides underreported in Kalamazoo County, local and FBI figures show(MI)
Posted on 06/12/2012 10:55:31 AM PDT by marktwain
KALAMAZOO, MI Over a span of 10 years beginning in 2000, prosecutors in Kalamazoo County ruled that the slayings of eight people were done in self-defense or, in simpler terms, were justified.
The first was James Douglas, a 20-year-old man who was shot and killed by Portage police detective Larry Napp near Augusta after he opened fire, wounding Napp. Napp later recovered.
The last was Bernel Gordon, also 20, who died by gunfire after he tried to rob Frank Pierce during a drug deal at a Kalamazoo apartment complex. Justified to Kill series Introducing the series A digest of the series so far Kalamazoo County justifiable homicides, 2000-10
But neither Douglas nor Gordons killings are accounted for correctly in the FBIs Uniform Crime Report, the annual go-to source for tracking crime trends both locally and nationally.
In fact, a quick review of FBI statistics shows only one not eight justifiable homicide reported in Kalamazoo County between 2000 and 2010.
The large discrepancy is one example of how FBI numbers understate the number of justifiable homicide cases both in Michigan and nationally.
Its all a data-input problem, Kalamazoo Public Safety Chief Jeff Hadley said. What happens is when the initial (incident) reports are generated, its coded as a homicide. It never gets recoded.
You dont close the loop when it comes back as a justifiable homicide.
KDPS had two cases Gordons slaying and the fatal shooting of John Gill by Public Safety Sgt. Stacey Geik in 2004 that were not coded accurately in FBI numbers as justifiable homicides.
After learning of the errors recently, Hadley said he planned to have the two cases coded properly as justifiable homicides and then resubmitted to Michigan State Police and then on to the FBI.
Among the other five justifiable homicides in Kalamazoo County, three were fatal shootings of civilians by police officers, there was a fatal stabbing in 2005 in Kalamazoo Township involving two women and a fatal shooting in 2009 in Alamo Township involving two family members.
Of the four fatal shootings in the county that involved police officers between 2000 and 2010, two occurred in Portage at the beginning of the decade.
Richard White, the director of the Portage Department of Public Safety, had the Kalamazoo County Sheriffs Office investigate both cases, which were each ruled to be justifiable by then-Kalamazoo County Prosecutor James Gregart.
Neither case was ever properly reported to the FBI. In fact, neither Portage police nor the sheriffs office has either case on their records as a homicide.
White said his agency has no record of either incident in their files because the sheriffs office investigated the fatal shootings. Undersheriff Pali Matyas, upon checking records in his agency recently, found that both are listed by the sheriffs office as what police commonly call an assist to another agency.
I guess there probably should have been some coordination between the agencies to make sure they were counted, White said recently. I suppose some coordination between us and them some time here in the near future would be good so that we make sure they get scored somewhere.
I think its pointed out something that theres a gap in the data counting. We need to be discussing these issues and make sure the count is as accurate as we can make it.
The sheriffs office investigated the 2009 fatal shooting in Alamo. In that case, Kalamazoo County Prosecutor Jeff Fink ruled that David Uminn was justified when he shot and killed his brother-in-law, John Stafford Jr.
Stafford, police records show, had made threats against Uminn and his family and was in the process of breaking into Uminns house when he was shot and killed.
Like the Gordon case in the city, Staffords death was logged as a homicide with the FBI but then never recoded by sheriffs officials once Fink decided, about three months after the incident, that Uminn would not face charges.
I think the reason these are not re-categorized universally is reflected in what occurred at our agency in 2009, Matyas said. Rulings of justifiable homicides always come months and months after the incident. Record clerks probably arent given the updated information.
Its not intentional. Officers just dont think of it.
The one case in Kalamazoo County that does show up in FBI statistics from 2000 to 2010 is the death of Patrice Streeter, 21, who was stabbed to death on Jan. 3, 2005, by her domestic partner inside the home the two shared on Boardman Street.
Kalamazoo Township Police Chief Tim Bourgeois said Finks office ruled Streeters death was justified more than a month later and his agency submitted the case as a justifiable homicide to MSP and the FBI at the end of that February.
After learning recently of the discrepancy in FBI numbers pertaining to justifiable homicides in the county, Bourgeois said his skepticism has only grown about taking FBI crime numbers on their face as a clear reflection of crime in a community.
When you see something like this, you say, Yeah, how can I rely on this?, Bourgeois said. No one is knowingly skewing the data but this is a good example of how that can happen unintentionally.
Contact Rex Hall Jr. at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter.
Faulty or biased stats are one of the reasons I doubt the validity of this story that show Flint and Detroit as the two most dangerous cities in the country.
Nearly 50 people shot and 8 killed in Chicago over the weekend and it doesn’t even make the list.
Could this under-reporting be because K-zoo is supposed to be a “college town”?
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