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July 05, 2016

MSC: Reserve police officers are police officers when it comes to resisting arrest

A defendant can be convicted for resisting and obstructing under MCL 750.81d even if the order to stop came from a reserve police officer, as long as the defendant knew or had reason to know that the reserve police officer was performing his duties as a police officer at the time of resistance.  In People v. Feeley, No. 152534, the Michigan Supreme Court found that “reserve police officer” fits the definition of “police officer” in MCL 750.81d, reversing the decisions of the lower courts.
According to the reserve police officer, police were called to a bar to help with an intoxicated person, and the reserve police officer and one full-time police officer responded.  Defendant was identified as the troublemaker, and the reserve police officer asked to speak with him.  Defendant turned and ran away.  The reserve police officer chased the defendant, identified himself as a police officer, and ordered the defendant to stop.  After the reserve police officer had twice ordered the defendant to stop, the defendant turned around, swore at the officer, and reached behind his back.  At that point, the reserve police officer pulled his weapon and ordered the defendant to get on the ground.  The defendant complied, was arrested, and was charged with resisting and obstructing under MCL 750.81d.  The lower courts decided that a reserve police officer could not be considered a police officer under the statute, and dismissed the charges.  The Michigan Supreme Court, in a unanimous opinion, held that reserve police officers are a subset of police officers, and even though reserve police officers are not specifically listed in the statute, that the statute intended to include reserve police officers with the language, “including, but not limited to,” suggesting an expansive definition of police officers.  The Court remanded the case back to the court of appeals to determine if the reserve police officer had authority to order the defendant to stop and if the defendant knew or had reason to know that the reserve police officer was performing his duties at the time of resistance.

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