Owner of stolen car upset about footing bill for repairs after car shot by police
KALAMAZOO, Mich. (NEWSCHANNLE 3) - —
A Kalamazoo woman whose car was riddled with bullets when a Mattawan police officer opened fire on a suspected thief is demanding answers.
She says it was bad enough that her car was stolen, but now that she has it back, she says she has been told she has to foot the bill for repairs.
Newschannel 3's Nicky Zizaza spoke to the woman who says she is devastated.
Geraldine Bender, 66, the owner of the car, says this is not her fault and she does not understand why she has to foot the bill to repair her car. She says this terrible situation continues to get worse and it is unfair.
Bender said, “This was not something we asked for, surely it wasn't something that Mattawan asked for nobody asked for it."
The 66-year-old grandmother talked about the officer-involved shooting where Chelsey Omilian, who was later fired, is seen in a dash camera video spraying Bender's red Impala with bullets to stop a suspected thief.
Bender said, “This guy is a three-time felon. This was his second time with this car in two weeks because he stole it."
Omilian is now facing charges of reckless discharge of a firearm. Actions that Omilian's defense attorney Randall Levine say were justified.
Levine said, "Officer Omilian was on duty as a police officer for Mattawan, just as she would've been on duty, or any other officer on duty, when she was faced with a dangerous situation. A parole absconder, who she had reason to believe was armed and dangerous, who was driving a stolen vehicle, who turned the vehicle at her after she had activated her patrol car lights to try to get him to stop."
Nearly a month after police towed away the red Impala at the center of the investigation, Bender claims the Mattawan Police Department is refusing to pay for the repairs.
Bender said, “All together right now it is about $790."
Money she says she doesn't have.
She said, "I don't care if I have to beg, borrow, and plead. I just want it over. So how can we do it, I don't know."
Bender says she will do whatever it takes to resolve this issue, but that ahead of the holiday it makes things incredibly difficult.
Mattawan police have not returned calls about the matter.