The family of Deven Guilford is suing the Eaton County, Michigan, sheriff's office, seeking a jury trial and damages for the 17-year-old's death. Sgt. Jonathan Frost shot and killed Guilford after Guilford attacked him. A prosecutor, who said Frost and Guilford both could have made "better choices," declined to file any charges. The family's lawsuit argues the officer's actions up until the altercation and after it were all illegal.
The incident, part of which was caught on Frost's body camera, began when Frost pulled Guilford over for flashing his high beams at him. The teen told the sergeant he believed the high beams on the officer's new SUV were on. According to the family's lawsuit, this was not the first time Frost had pulled someone over who said they had flashed him for having his high beams on. The family argues flashing someone to remind them to check their lights is not against the law.
At first the teenager refused to give the officer his license, insisting there had been no reason for the stop. After admitting he did not have his license on him, he called his girlfriend, who the lawsuit says had it. Frost, meanwhile, said he believed that because Guilford was talking about his rights, he may have been calling in reinforcements, so the officer called for backup himself. Frost may have been on heightened alert because of government warnings about the threat of the "sovereign citizens movement," a subculture whose members believe they do not need to follow various laws.
This article originally appeared in print under the headline "Deadly Flash".