Warner Twp., Mich. – A community is outraged after “the grandpa that everyone loves” suffered a shattered elbow and bloody nose at the hands of State Police, and is now facing a felony charge of resisting and obstructing police. Cops are telling a different story than the account given by 83-year-old Larry Sevenski, and the truth could easily be known – except that the police cruiser dashcam had a mysterious “malfunction” during Sevenski’s arrest.
Sevenski is the owner of the only bar in the town of Warner Township, population 410. Larry’s Seven-ski Inn was full on the night of St. Patrick’s Day, with happy customers enjoying Irish food and music. Someone informed Sevenski that State Police were parked on his property waiting to harass people leaving the bar in hopes of collecting some revenue, so Sevenski decided to have a word with them.
After driving around and looking for the cops, Sevenski made a U-turn, and that’s when a patrol vehicle pulled him over. Sevenski acknowledges getting out of the car and approaching the cops, but Michigan State Trooper Brock Artfitch tells a tale of this 83-year-old man making threatening statements and attacking the officers.
“Artfitch said Sevenski ignored shouted orders to return to his vehicle and instead walked directly at the trooper, reaching him near the front of the patrol car. Artfitch said he put out his hand to stop Sevenski’s advance and pushed on his chest to try to walk him backward toward Sevenski’s car. He asked if Sevenski was carrying any weapons.
“His response was ‘I wish I had one,'” Artfitch said.
Artfitch, 28, said he then grabbed Sevenski’s left hand to try to turn him around for a pat down.
“He squeezed my hand very tightly and he took his right arm and cocked it back in a punching position and formed his right hand into a tight fist,” Artfitch said.
Sevenski’s lawyer, Rick Steiger, asked if he was fearful of Sevenski at that point.
“Yes,” Artfitch said.
Artfitch said he used what’s known as a straight arm bar takedown to get Sevenski on the ground.
When he did, Sevenski’s nose was bleeding, his glasses were chipped and he was screaming in pain, saying his arm was broken. Artfitch and his partner handcuffed Sevenski, called for an ambulance and began performing first aid on Sevenski’s nose.”
Perhaps Sevenski was a bit angry that his patrons in the small town were being preyed upon by revenue collectors as they celebrated a holiday. However, the idea that 83-year-old Sevenski – known for being kind and gentle – would attack the cops and deserved to be brutally taken down defies belief.
All of this could be cleared up, and the beloved grandpa could likely be free of charges, if only the police dashcam wouldn’t have experienced a “technical failure.” When the car’s overhead lights are activated it is supposed to automatically turn on the dashcam, but somehow that didn’t happen that night.
“There was a technical failure with the video camera installed in the patrol vehicle involved in this incident,” 1st Lt. Mark Harris, commander of the Gaylord State Police Post, said in a statement. “While the camera log shows that the camera started recording when the patrol car’s lights were activated, the camera malfunctioned and did not write the incident to the memory card.“
The camera did begin recording but only after paramedics had begun tending to Sevenski’s wounds. Despite clear grounds for skepticism, the District Judge went ahead and sided with the State Police trooper anyway, sending Sevenski to trial for resisting and obstructing police.
District Judge Thomas Phillips apparently thinks slamming an 83-year-old man to the ground and causing severe injury is a natural and just outcome, saying, ”When you don’t obey lawful commands, often a physical confrontation results.”
Sevenski has the full support of the community, who put together a benefit to help pay the medical bills caused by the cops’ brutality. Outside of the courtroom, local residents let their anger be known.
“Shame on you, beating on that 83-year-old man,” shouted Don Koshmider, as he recorded Trooper Artfitch leaving a court hearing. “Why did you turn off your video camera?”
Sadly, this is just one more example of how the American police state is poised to enact violence on the citizenry which it claims to “protect and serve.” De-escalation seems to be a vanishing practice, and instead, cops like Artfitch are eager to use their “takedown methods” even on the most vulnerable.
When asked if he’s known for being strong by the Detroit Free Press, Sevenski said, “You should’ve seen me at the first trial. I was very sick, very tired. But, I stood up straight. I showed them that they ain’t puttin’ me down. They won’t put me down.”