Police Cleared in Two High Speed Deaths in Berrien County

Berrien County Prosecutor Michael Sepic has concluded that no charges are warranted or will be filed in the case of the death of a Three Oaks man last summer after he led police on a high speed crash after leaving Dale's Mini Mart in the city of Niles before crashing into a tree. The man died at a South Bend hospital from injuries sustained in that crash.

He has also announced no charges will be filed relating to a fatal crash that occurred on Sunday, September 16, 2018 at 3:30 in the afternoon, when a Pokagon Tribal Police Department squad car was answering a dispatch to a Cass County location for an in-progress domestic violence call.

Here is Sepic's report on a Niles case, released this afternoon:

At 5:30 pm July 28, the Niles dispatch center broadcast a “be on the lookout for” a man leaving Dale’s Mini Mart intoxicated who had caused a disturbance. Dispatch put out a description of the vehicle with some unique particulars. A deputy on patrol and in a fully marked Berrien County Sheriff’s Department vehicle observed the described vehicle in the City of Niles stopped at a green light. The deputy also saw the vehicle almost hit a curb upon its acceleration. The deputy then attempted a traffic stop using its overhead red and blue lights believing the information provided and observed was sufficient to stop the driver suspecting he was intoxicated. The suspect vehicle pulled into a parking lot as if to stop having seen the overhead lights of the squad car then abruptly left the parking lot and speed off.

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The suspect driver drove recklessly reaching speeds over 100 miles per hour and passed cars on Niles-Buchanan Road on the left and the right. The deputy maintained a distance but attempted to keep a view of the suspect vehicle.  The deputy, having to slow for traffic, accelerated to maintain a view but discovered the suspect vehicle had left the roadway. Upon leaving the roadway, the suspect vehicle hit a tree. The deputy and emergency personnel arriving at the scene had difficulty removing the suspect from the vehicle but did transport him to a South Bend hospital where he died.

The Michigan State Police investigated the crash scene and determined the speed of the suspect vehicle leaving the roadway was 87 miles per hour.

The driver was identified as David Bross, 24, of Three Oaks, Michigan. Autopsy results indicate Bross’ death was a result of the crash. His blood alcohol level was .17.

It is important to note that law enforcement has a responsibility to the public to keep our roadways safe. When police officers suspect a driver is operating while intoxicated, they have a duty to the public to attempt to stop that individual. This reduces the risk to the public of such a driver causing a crash. No charges will result from this crash, as this deputy was not criminally negligent, nor negligent at all, in the performance of his duties that July afternoon.

Here's is the balance of Sepic's report on the Pokagon Tribal incident:

The squad car headed southbound on M-140 from the City of Watervliet, with siren and overhead lights activated and traveling at 84 miles per hour as it approached Territorial Road in Bainbridge Township.  M-140 traffic has the right of way at that intersection. 

A 2009 Lincoln MKS was travelling eastbound on Territorial Road but did not heed the stop sign for Territorial traffic at that intersection. The driver of the Lincoln, Sherry Temple, 69, of Stevensville, did not survive the collision. The Lincoln was travelling at 57 miles per hour at impact. Neither alcohol nor drugs were a factor in the crash.

Two Pokagon Tribal Police Department officers, both of whom are recovering from their injuries, occupied the Pokagon Tribal Police squad car.

The law exempts the driver of an authorized emergency vehicle from speed limitations if the driver is answering an emergency call and a siren and emergency lights are activated.

Squad car video reveals that the driver of the squad car was acting reasonably and responsibly during the 5 mile route adjusting speed and siren tones as he engaged traffic.