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Michigan Deputies Accused of Deleting Footage After Citizen Recovers Footage Through Software


Michigan deputies are accused of forcing a woman to delete her video footage after she recorded them handcuffing her husband for legally carrying an unloaded shotgun on their property.

The couple managed to recover the footage, so now we are able to see a 36-second video clip showing a Crawford County sheriff deputy holding the husband facedown on the ground in handcuffs while another deputy has another man in handcuffs.

The second deputy then turns to the camera, ordering her to turn the camera off while approaching her. The first deputy can be heard saying they are going to take it as evidence before the camera turns off.

The woman, Heather Donald, told her story to The Blaze, reporting that deputies did seize the camera, returning it only after they had deleted the footage.

She even provided screenshots to The Blaze showing they used a program called iCare Data Recovery to recover the footage.

But even though there is little doubt that deputies tried to destroy this so-called “evidence,” there is little chance that they will be disciplined.

The incident took place Sunday when Thomas Donald called authorities to report a trespasser on his 10-acre property. He said he had been hunting on the property with his 11-year-old son when they came across the trespasser on a dirt bike.

But Donald ended up arrested for assault with a deadly weapon, a felony charge that can land him in prison for four years. The trespasser, who said he rode onto the property without realizing it was private, was issued a citation and released.

Deputies accuse Donald of pointing the shotgun at the trespasser, an allegation the Donalds deny.

But the fact that deputies can be seen on video ordering Heather Donald to stop recording, claiming they need to seize the camera as evidence should be enough to discredit anything else they have to say.

According to The Blaze:

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When officers with the Crawford County Sheriff’s Department arrived on the scene, Heather says her husband held up the “open shotgun” with his left hand while holding the shell in his right hand to indicate the weapon was not loaded and assure officers he was not a threat.

The officers apparently didn’t see it that way. And while Heather later would start recording the incident, it should be noted that there is no footage available to show the moment deputies confronted Donald.

One of the deputies, identified by Heather as Shawn Schnoor, “fumbled” with his pistol and trained it on Donald, ordering him to get on the ground. Heather told TheBlaze it took her husband longer than the officer wanted because he has a badly injured back but he moved as fast as he could. Donald was handcuffed before police made their way to talk to the trespassing suspect.


About Carlos Miller

Carlos Miller is founder and publisher of Photography is Not a Crime, which began as a one-man blog in 2007 to document his trial after he was arrested for photographing police during a journalistic assignment. He is also the author of The Citizen Journalist's Photography Handbook, which can be purchased through Amazon.