SHELBY TOWNSHIP, Mich. – The family of a teenager who was killed in a triple fatal crash at Stony Creek Metropark has filed a lawsuit, arguing that their son was not the driver.
The family is suing Macomb County, Sheriff Anthony Wickersham and his officers.
Jonathan Manolios, 17, and two other teenagers were killed May 8, 2015, when the Jaguar they were in crashed into a guard rail at the Shelby Township park. Emanuel Malaj and Michael Wells, also 17, were identified as the other two victims.
Witnesses said the black 2008 Jaguar was going about 80 mph in the park, which has speed limits of 25 mph and 35 mph.
Two other 17-year-olds who were inside the car suffered serious injuries.
Police said Manolios was driving the Jaguar at the time of the crash, but his family came out last October to refute the claim. They said there was a mix-up that affected the locations of the four teens who were ejected from the Jaguar.
The family believes police framed their son, and a surviving victim was the driver.
"There's no evidence to support my son was the driver," said George Manolios, Jonathan's father.
The lawsuit claims investigators were maliciously blaming innocent individuals for crimes they did not commit, fabricating evidence and pressuring witness statements, suppressing evidence and depriving the due process of law.
Through a Freedom of Information request, George Manolios learned police never conducted an accident-reconstruction report.
The family said they just want proof that their son was the driver, and they will drop the lawsuit if they get physical evidence.
Macomb County Corporation Counsel John Schapka released the following statement:
"It is my understanding that the family of Jonathon Manolios filed this federal lawsuit as a means of bringing closure to the tragic loss of their son. I cannot imagine the depth or breadth of their loss, but suing the investigators who were called to the scene to gather evidence, regardless of what it was, where it was found, or what it showed is nothing short of shameful. Plaintiffs attack the investigators simply because they do not agree with the evidence and cannot accept what it showed.
"The complaint filed in this matter is dominated by intentional distortions and deliberate fabrications. For most of us, the truth is good enough. Apparently, Plaintiffs disagree. This opportunistic law suit will not bring them the closure they so desperately seek; it will just needlessly prolong their unhappiness.
"I look forward to defending this case to its end."