Prosecutor: Officers justified in killing fleeing bank robbers

Alex Doty • Jul 21, 2015 at 11:11 AM

“Deadly force was repeatedly used against the pursuing officers,” Frantz said in a report released Tuesday. “They acted with an honest and reasonable belief they or their fellow officers were in immediate danger.”

The two men were shot and killed by officers after a high-speed chase following a bank robbery at the ChoiceOne Bank in Ravenna. The chase led officers from Muskegon and Ottawa counties, and the Michigan State Police through Coopersville, where they eventually ended up on Interstate 96.

During the police chase on I-96, speeds reached as fast as 100 mph, and the two suspects shot at police from their vehicle. The suspects eventually exited I-96 at the Eighth Avenue exit, east of Marne — where they struck and killed Walker Police Officer Trevor Slot, who was outside of his patrol car deploying stop sticks on the exit ramp.

According to Frantz’s report, the use of deadly force by officers from the Ottawa County Sheriff’s Department and Michigan State Police was allowable in the case.

“While the killing of Officer Slot may not have been immediately known by all officers at the scene, the threatening behavior of Cheyne and Lafave toward fellow officers at the scene was apparent,” Frantz said.

He said officers noted rifle fire coming from the getaway vehicle, and they also observed the car being driven recklessly, endangering others during the pursuit.

Cheyne, the driver, eventually lost control of the getaway vehicle and crashed into a ravine. He jumped out, fired a shotgun at a police cruiser, and was shot and killed when he pointed the gun at officers.

Lafave stayed in the back seat of the vehicle and shot at officers with a rifle. He was killed when two deputies and two state troopers returned fire.

“Their actions were a lawful and appropriate response to the danger presented by Cheyne and Lafave,” Frantz said. “No criminal charges will be filed against the officers.”

The officers who shot and killed the robbers have been on administrative leave pending the results of the investigation. The prosecutor’s report helps clear the way for their return to regular duties.

— WZZM-TV contributed to this report.

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