By Annette Christie
Former police officer charged with drug possession
Berrien County Prosecutor Michael Sepic released information on charges recently authorized against Kraig Mitchell, 33, of Kalamazoo. Mitchell is a former police officer with the Coloma Township Police Department.
Mitchell is charged with four counts in relation to the theft of controlled substances under the possession or control of the department. On January 10, 2017, then a patrolman with the Coloma Township Police Department, Mitchell was discovered to be in possession of a heroin/fentanyl mix and codeine tablets.
Relating to the heroin/fentanyl mix (schedule I and schedule II controlled substances, respectively), Mitchell is charged with taking that mixture from the scene of an overdose death he participated in investigating that day in Coloma Township. Later the same day, it is alleged that Mitchell was found to be in possession of pills containing codeine (a schedule III controlled substance). The pills were taken from the township’s MedReturn Box, a secure unit in place for citizens to deposit unused pills and medicine, while an inventory of the deposited drugs was being completed.
Mitchell is charged with tampering with evidence, a 10-year felony; obstruction of justice, a 5-year felony; one count of possession of a controlled substance, the heroin/fentanyl mix (schedule I and II), a 4-year felony; and one count of possession of a controlled substance, the codeine pills (schedule III), a 2-year felony.
He was arraigned on February 17 and bond was set at $10,000 (10%). The pre-exam conference is set for February 24 and the preliminary exam hearing is set for March 2.
The defendant, Mitchell, is presumed innocent until proven guilty.
Traffic violation results in warrant arrest
A Coloma Township police officer stopped a vehicle for disregarding a stop sign at the intersection of Paw Paw Lake Road and Walnut Street on February 16 at approximately 6:43 p.m. The driver, a 21-year-old Hartford man was found to have two warrants out of Berrien County. He was lodged in the Berrien County Jail.
Probation violation lands woman in jail
On February 18, at 2:20 a.m., Coloma Township police officers made contract with an intoxicated female walking on N. Paw Paw Street. While conducting an investigation, officers determined the female was on probation and was in violation of her probation conditions.
The 40-year-old Benton Harbor woman was arrested for probation violation and was lodged at the Berrien County Jail.
Brothers charged in attack of Michigan State Police trooper
Two men were arraigned in the Berrien County Trial Court on Tuesday, February 21 for a roadside attack on a Michigan State Police trooper which occurred Monday morning.
At approximately 8:43 a.m., Monday, February 20, Trooper Garry Guild attempted to stop a motorcycle traveling south on the US31 Bypass near Matthew Road in Berrien Township for speeding. The motorcycle, driven by 21-year-old Michael Scott Barber, began to stop but quickly accelerated and reentered the freeway. After a three-mile pursuit, the driver attempted to maneuver in the gore of the exit ramp and lost control. After crashing, Barber quickly returned to his feet and charged toward Guild.
Trooper Guild attempted to gain control over the driver. As he was wrestling with the suspect, a vehicle stopped and Barber’s brother, Travis Tyler Wise, 19, also ran toward Guild, attacking him. As Wise was attempted to choke Guild, Barber was punching him in the face.
Two passersby immediately stopped and ran to the rescue of Guild. Both of the men (a 50-year-old male from Plainwell and Jerry Burnham of Berrien Springs) subdued Wise as Guild was able to get Barber into custody. Eventually both Wise and Barber were placed into custody with the assistance of the citizens, Buchanan Police Department, Berrien County Sheriff’s Department, and the Pokagon Tribal Police.
The motorcycle was found to be stolen from Van Buren County and is connected to several breaking and entering.
Guild, a 21-year veteran of the Michigan State Police, was seen and released from the local hospital with minor injuries.
Barber, 21, of Gobles is charged with the following criminal offenses; assault strangulation, a 10-year felony; fleeing and eluding, 3rd degree, a 5-year felony; resisting and obstruction of a police officer causing injury, a 4-year felony; and attempting to disarm a police officer (a taser), a 2-year felony.
Wise, 19, of Middlebury, Indiana is charged with the following criminal offenses: assault strangulation, a 10-year felony; obstruction of justice, a 5-year felony; resisting and obstruction of a police officer causing injury, a 4-year felony; attempting to disarm a police officer (a taser), a 2-year felony.
At their arraignment, bond was set at $100,000 cash or surety on Wise and $75,000 cash or surety on Barber. Their pre-exam conference and preliminary exam hearings are scheduled for Wednesday, March 1 and Tuesday, March 7 respectively, both at 8:30 a.m. in the Berrien County Trial Court at the South County Courthouse in Niles.
The defendants, Wise and Barber, are presumed innocent until proven guilty.