Parents: Police officer murdered unarmed son in Michigan U.P.

Family hires attorney Geoffrey Fieger to file civil suit against police officer

MARQUETTE COUNTY, Mich. – Auto mechanic Timothy Mitchell, 46, lived in Livonia until a few years ago when he lost his job.

He moved to the U.P. with his aging parents. He brushed with the law for impaired driving.

On July 14 of this year, Mitchell got into a verbal altercation with an acquaintance at an auto dealership and drove away. There was a 911 call stating he was highly intoxicated.

At some point in Munising, police saw Mitchell's vehicle and a chase started. It was eventually broken off due to high speeds.

There is dashcam video from Munising police officer Justin Schlabach's vehicle that day. Schlabach's walk-around microphone allegedly did not work at the time. The video shows Schlabach get out of his vehicle with his weapon drawn. He claims he repeatedly told Mitchell to get on the ground.

Mitchell did not get on the ground and instead walked toward the officer. He was unarmed. The video shows Schlabach back up a couple of steps before firing two shots, killing Mitchell. Schlabach claims Mitchell told him he was going to have to kill him to stop him.

Marquette County Prosecutor Matt Wiese said Schlabach was in the right.

"Is this man who just committed a number of felonies serious about saying I'm going to have to shoot him? Because he's so desperate that he's willing to let me shoot him rather than be apprehended," said Wiese.

Mitchell's outraged parents, Ronald and Cheryle Mitchell, are speaking out for the first time.

"(Schlabach) should go to prison," said Cheryle.

"I think this needs to be relooked at again and I agree with my wife that ... I feel he murdered my son. That's my belief," said Ronald.

They've hired attorney Geoffrey Fieger, who will sue in federal court for a civil rights violation.

"This is 100 times worse than anything that's been alleged in Ferguson. This is an unarmed man, who is clearly unarmed, who is simply walking toward a police officer, who is gunned down in cold blood," said Fieger.

The lawsuit will be filed in the next week or so. It will ask for civil damages in excess of $75,000, but they will be looking for millions of dollars as they claim officer Schlabach used excessive deadly force when none was required.

About the Author:

Rod Meloni is an Emmy Award-winning Business Editor on Local 4 News and a Certified Financial Planner™ Professional.