CLARKSTON, Mich. – The 22-year-old man charged in the killing Oakland County Sheriff’s Deputy Eric Overall was found guilty of first-degree murder on Friday.
Christopher Joseph Berak was charged with first-degree premeditated homicide and murder of a peace officer. He was accused of leading deputies on a chase and deliberately hitting and killing Overall at the intersection of M-15 and Seymore Lake Road on Thanksgiving Day 2017.
Background on case
Early Thanksgiving morning in 2017, while many folks slept, Deputy Eric Overall was on duty, trying to stop a vehicle fleeing Lapeer County deputies.
"When he was deploying the stop sticks, he was struck by the suspect," Oakland County Sheriff Michael Bouchard said.
Fellow officers, first responders and the Oakland County community came together to support Eric Overall's wife, Sonja Overall.
“He treated everyone with the utmost respect,” Sonja Overall said. “Not a single person could ever say anything negative about him because he was just that wonderful. He wore his heart on his sleeve. There wasn’t anything he wouldn’t do for anybody, even the bad guys.”
"The fact he was a school liaison officer speaks volumes of him as a person," said close friend Chery Calcaterra. "The fact he worked with children all the time, he helped them through their life struggles."
"His friends called him E (or) Big E," said another close friend, Michael Calcatera. "Very inspirational guy. Great guy. Family guy, and he was there for my family when we needed him."
Overall was 50 years old and had served on the police force for 22 years.
Suspect claimed he was God
Lapeer County Sheriff Scott McKenna said Berak was seen at the Lapeer County Jail and approached the intercom ifn the jail lobby, standing there without pushing the button.
Officials said they activated a camera with audio and heard the man saying that he was God and he had come to the jail to free one of his followers.
He allegedly told deputies at the nearby prison that he "has a claim on this land." He was on the phone with a Lapeer County 911 operator during these interactions and the operator said Berak claimed it's not fair to have his follower locked up due to a violation of man-made laws that they don't follow, according to police.
Officials said the man got upset that nobody was helping him remove his follower, so he hung up on the operator.
Sheriff Michael Bouchard released the following statement:
“Today, we now have closure in the line of duty death of Deputy Eric Overall, who served his time at the Oakland County Sheriff’s Office with dignity, integrity, and grace. His family friends and our agency have a void which will never be filled as a result of the tragic loss of Eric. His impact will not be forgotten. I applaud all the investigators from the Sheriff’s Office and outside agencies who assisted in this investigation and trial. Reliving the case has not been easy on anyone including Eric’s family and loved ones. I hope his wife Sonja and son Ken find some peace and solace now that his killer has been held responsible. Eric’s ‘Never Quit’ mantra represented everyone’s dedication to obtaining justice in this case.”