CALHOUN COUNTY, Mich. — The family of a Marshall man shot and killed by police in Battle Creek has filed a $15 million wrongful death lawsuit against the city of Battle Creek, members of the Battle Creek Police Department of Calhoun and Calhoun County Sheriff’s Office.
According to Michigan State Police, Andrew Blowers, 22, was shot six times, including once in the back, following a police pursuit. He died at the scene in Battle Creek on Sept. 5, 2020.
His mom, Charese Watson spoke out Thursday, May 6, 2021, the day after the wrongful death suit was filed.
Watson said, “It has been a horrible, horrible loss of losing Andrew in our lives for his whole family and we just want to see some sort of accountability for our law enforcement.”
In December 2020, Calhoun County Prosecutor David Gilbert said officers were justified for shooting and killing a Blowers following a high-speed chase.
In a 13-page opinion, Gilbert said a Calhoun County Sheriff deputy and two Battle Creek Police officers acted self-defense when they shot and killed him as he drove his 2004 Chevrolet Trailblazer toward the officers.
The wrongful death lawsuit argued Blowers suffered from a mental disability, was unarmed, and that the two police officers and deputy were not in harm’s way or had the ability to escape Blowers’ moving SUV.
The pursuit started when police said officers attempted to stop Blowers for driving erratically and possibly driving under the influence near Dickman Road and Michigan 66.
Police dash camera video obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request showed about 15 minutes into the high-speed chase, Blowers appeared to lose control and his SUV jumped a curb off Logistics Drive near Fort Custer Industrial Park.
Officers approached the SUV with guns drawn, ordering Blowers to turn the vehicle off, according to Gilbert's report.
Battle Creek Police Officer Patrick Herson said he approached the SUV and Blowers ignored commands to shut off his vehicle and revved the engine, according to the police incident report.
"Blowers looked at me, smiled and the SUV suddenly began to drive forward. I suddenly became fearful that I would fall if I attempted to back away from the vehicle," Herson wrote.
Battle Creek Police Officer Stephen Herbstreith wrote, "I believed that the driver was trying to run me over and I was in fear for my life.”
According to the lawsuit, Blowers’ SUV accelerated out of a ditch, sideswiped a parked vehicle and drove at a slow speed in the direction of a dense wooded area when officers fired more than 20 shots into the side and back of his vehicle.
Michigan State Police said Herbstreith, Henson and Calhoun County Sheriff’s Deputy Brandon Hatch fired at the fleeing vehicle as it headed south toward the dead end and went into the woods.
The two Battle Creek officers and Calhoun County deputy are named as defendants in the $15 million wrongful death suit, along with the City of Battle Creek, BCPD Chief Jim Blocker, Calhoun County Sheriff Steven Hinkley, and Calhoun County’s Board of Commissioners.
According to Battle Creek City Attorney Jill Steele the city nor the police department have been served with the lawsuit.
“Although the loss of life is tragic, our early assessment we agree with the prosecutor’s conclusion that the officers acted reasonably given the facts and circumstances involved and the danger facing the officers," Steele said.
The Calhoun County Sheriff's Office declined comment due to pending litigation.