By Jennifer Gomori, POJ Editor
Three Battle Creek Officers were honored with 2023 POLC Outstanding Service Awards (OSA) for their split-second decisive response to an armed suicidal suspect, which saved the lives of everyone on scene.
Battle Creek Police Corporal Mikael Ziegler, Officer Tyris Brazier and Officer Jed Reames (pictured left to right above) received their awards at the 2023 POLC/GELC Conference in Traverse City on Sept. 15 for going above and beyond the call of duty.
It was pitch black outside at 10:30 p.m. Christmas Day 2022 when the three officers ran toward screams coming from behind a mobile home on the 200 block of North Birdsall Drive in Bedford Township. With their gun flashlights activated, the officers encountered a suicidal man armed with a knife and a man and woman holding him on both sides, struggling to restrain him. Officer Reames was furthest from the suspect, on the opposite side of a raised deck where a second woman was on the phone with 9-1-1. She yelled to police that the man had a knife.
|Photos by Dave Millar, Photographic Impressions
POLC Director Jim Stachowski (from right to left) congratulates Battle Creek Corporal Mikael Ziegler on his POLC Outstanding Service Award, pictured with his wife, Chelsea and son, Remington.
|POLC Director Jim Stachowski (right) congratulates Battle Creek Officer Tyris Brazier on his Outstanding Service Award.
Ziegler said he saw the silver handle of the knife in the suspect’s waistband and officers commanded him to drop the knife. The 22-year-old Battle Creek man looked up at police, bent at the waist and pulled out a handgun, pointing it at Ziegler and Brazier. The two officers had to make the difficult decision to fire their weapons at the suspect, who was flanked by the two individuals.
“There were two people on each side of him holding onto him in the snow. They were shoulder-to-shoulder, not different than if they were giving him a hug on each side of his body, which, in reality, is the worst case scenario in that situation,” Ziegler said. “I was the first one to see (the gun) and the first one to shoot. I ended up shooting twice and Brazier shot three times. The subject was hit twice, once through the side and once in the back.”
No one else was shot. “We got lucky, but that speaks volumes to the training we get in our department,” Ziegler said. “We were ready for it.”
The officers immediately provided medical assistance. “Due to the cold temperatures and the subject’s condition, it was decided that arriving officers would make other arrangements,” wrote Battle Creek Police Lt. Ryan Strunk in his OSA nomination letter. “The wound was packed to control the bleeding and the subject was transported to Bronson Battle Creek for medical treatment.”
“Brazier has a medical background from the military,” Ziegler said. “All three of us were taking care of him until we were able to get him stabilized and one of our sergeants drove him to the hospital. We sent the other officers to check on the people standing next to him to make sure they were okay.”
Police had initially responded to the residence at 2:30 p.m. Dec. 25, 2022 after a 21-year-old Bedford Township woman reported that her boyfriend had assaulted her. The man left the area before officers arrived and police conducted a search but he was not found, police said.
“(The) Officers responded to a volatile situation, were able to locate the trouble, and make a split-second decision under very difficult and dangerous circumstances,” wrote Strunk, a POLC Executive Committee member. “The quick and decisive actions of these officers preserved the lives of those on scene and their follow-up preserved the life of the subject. (The) Officers performed a very difficult task in a very dangerous situation that went above and beyond what is normally expected of them.”
Michigan State Police conducted an investigation and cleared all officers of any wrongdoing. The suspect, who faces multiple charges, is in a care facility paralyzed from his injuries. “That causes a lot of issues individually after the fact, not only going through the investigation, but dealing with it on your own,” Ziegler said of the shooting. “It’s hard until you can make sense of it.”
He is honored to be an Outstanding Service Award recipient. “It’s an award you don’t ever want to receive, but you really still appreciate receiving it because of the time and effort and trauma,” he said. “It helps me solidify I was in the right place at the right time. We made quick, great choices. It helps remind you that you did a good job and you will remember that for the rest of your career.”
Battle Creek Detectives were able to link the suspect to a large-scale case involving the theft of hundreds of thousands of dollars in pre-loaded gift cards. Those cards were used by individuals to purchase illegal drugs, Ziegler said. The suspect has been charged with two counts of assault with a dangerous weapon on the officers, breaking and entering with intent, concealing stolen property, drug charges (possession of methamphetamine and other possession), and carrying a concealed weapon.
To view published articles about the 2023 POLC Outstanding Service Award winners, click on the links below:
Battle Creek Enquirer
WWMT.com News Channel 3