09-21-2017 Police & Fire

Police Reports

By Annette Christie

Watervliet motorcyclist dies from crash injuries

The Berrien County Sheriff’s Office has confirmed that a Watervliet man involved in a motorcycle vs. car accident has passed away as a result of his injuries.  The Sheriff’s Office responded to the serious personal injury accident that took place on Coloma Road near Bessemer Road in Hagar Township on September 14 at 6:45 a.m.

Alan Hatten, 52, of Watervliet was riding a motorcycle west on Coloma Road when the motorcycle ran into a Ford Edge driven by John Smith, 64, of Coloma.  The Ford Edge turned in front of the motorcycle causing the crash.  There was dense fog at the time of the crash.  Mr. Hatten was taken to Lakeland Hospital but passed away yesterday from his injuries.

Assisting the Sheriff’s Office at the scene were the Michigan State Police, Coloma Township Police Department, and Pride Care Ambulance.

Hurricane Irma dogs seek new homes

The Van Buren County Animal Control Office is holding an adoption event starting immediately through the rest of the week. The Bissell Event will be held Saturday, September 23 from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. The Humane Society of the United States along with the Bissell Pet Foundation is covering all fees except a $10.00 license fee.

The Van Buren County Animal Control took in 18 dogs from Gainesville, Florida. The dogs were fully vaccinated prior to being flown to Michigan. The Van Buren County Animal Control Shelter has 22 total dogs available for adoption.

Van Buren County Sheriff Dan Abbott advised that his office reached out to the Humane Society of the United States to offer their assistance to help in placing the displaced dogs because of Hurricane Irma. The dogs were flown in by a private donor on a private jet.

Sheriff Dan Abbott said, “It is on honor to assist animals that were displaced during this natural disaster to be able to get the dogs an avenue for adoption and give these dogs a forever home.”

State Police Angel Program comes to Southwest Michigan

In an attempt to assist people struggling with addiction and to reduce the drug demand, the Michigan State Police (MSP) has now joined almost 200 police departments nation-wide in the Angel Program, a pre-arrest diversion program. The Angel Program allows someone with a drug addiction to walk into a state police post and seek help for their addiction, without the fear of arrest or investigation.

MSP has now expanded this program to the Fifth District which includes the posts located in:  Marshall, Niles, Paw Paw, and Wayland. These posts have recently trained Angel Volunteers to provide support and transportation for the participants. The Angel Volunteers assist post personnel in finding the appropriate treatment, and then transport the participant to the treatment.

Participants must not have active warrants, pending court action, or be a registered sex offender.  The participants must also arrive to the post voluntarily for treatment.  Those interested in learning more about the program or if individuals are interested in becoming an Angel Volunteer, they are asked to please contact the Michigan State Police, Paw Paw Post at 269-657-5551.

The Angel Program is supported by P.A.A.R.I. (the Police Assisted Addiction and Recovery Initiative) and the idea began in Gloucester, Massachusetts in 2015.  It is now available at several state police posts throughout Michigan.

Beshires seeks to withdraw plea

Brandon Beshires, 32, who plead guilty to first degree murder in connection with the February 19, 2016 death of Carter Donovan in Coloma, has sought action to withdraw his plea. Carter Donovan, only eight months old at the time of his death, was left in the care of Beshires by the child’s mother, Autumn Atchley.  He is serving a mandatory life prison sentence with no chance for parole.

Beshires pleaded guilty on December 12, 2016 and admitted to slamming Carter’s head on the floor in the restaurant where he was babysitting him. Berrien County Trial Court Judge Arthur Cotter, after extensive questioning of Beshires, accepted the plea. The guilty plea was against the advice of his attorney at the time, Donald Sappanos.

The motion to withdraw the plea was filed by the State Appellate Defenders Office based on Beshires’ claim that his plea was not made knowingly and voluntarily.  He asked that his mental state at the time of the plea be considered.

Beshires had been examined for competency during the court process and was in fact found competent to stand trial.

Cotter denied the motion to withdraw the plea after noting several things from the previous court proceedings.

Mitchell gets probation

A former Coloma Township Police Officer, who took drugs from a fatal overdose and from a drug deposit bin in the township that he worked, has been given probation and a chance to right his wrong.

In January of this year, Kraig Mitchell took a heroin/ fentanyl mix from the scene of an overdose death that he was assisting with the investigation of.  In addition, he was found to be in possession of pills that were deposited in the MedReturn Box at township hall.

Mitchell pleaded guilty in July to tampering with evidence and obstruction of justice; 10- and 5-year felonies.  Charges of possession of cocaine less than 25 grams an