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AG Nessel Announces Findings in Two In-Custody Death Investigations
April 09, 2021
Editors & Reporters Please Note: A link to AG Nessel’s statement and video clips from the Lansing investigation can be found here.
LANSING--Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel today announced the findings of investigations conducted by her department into the in-custody deaths of Paul Bulthouse and Anthony Scott Hulon.
Paul Bulthouse, 39, died while being held at the Muskegon County Jail and Anthony Scott Hulon, 54, died at the Lansing Police Department Detention Center. In-custody deaths are those that occur while individuals are in the custody of law enforcement.
“The loss of human life is a tragedy,” said Nessel. “It is the responsibility of my office to determine whether that loss was the result of an unfortunate set of circumstances or because of a criminal act. While there is little the Department of Attorney General can do to provide comfort to the families of these two men, it is our duty and responsibility to perform a thorough investigation of each instance and pursue criminal charges, where appropriate.”
On April 10, 2020, Mr. Hulon was arrested by officers of the Lansing Police Department for erratic behavior and assaulting his roommate. He was taken to the Lansing Police Department Detention Facility where his erratic behavior continued after he was in custody. Mr. Hulon was ultimately transported to Sparrow Hospital for a medical evaluation, where the treating physician found he was positive for methamphetamines and ecstasy, before medically discharging Mr. Hulon.
Video footage showed Mr. Hulon was agitated throughout his interactions with officers. He was reportedly an experienced methamphetamine user, and evidence reviewed supports the notion that Mr. Hulon may have unknowingly ingested a dangerous substance laced in the drugs that affected his behavior.
Video evidence shows officers worked to restrain Mr. Hulon in his cell, but Mr. Hulon did not cooperate and fell to the floor, struggling with officers before going limp. With a restraint in place, officers attempted to sit Mr. Hulon up but found him to be unresponsive and without a pulse. Officers immediately administered life-saving measures, including CPR and the use of an automated external defibrillator (AED), in an attempt to revive him. Emergency medical technicians (EMTs) were called and Mr. Hulon was transported to Sparrow Hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 2:12 AM on April 11, 2020.
Michigan State Police conducted a complete and thorough investigation into Mr. Hulon’s death and submitted their findings to the Department of Attorney General for review and to determine what, if any, charges might be appropriate as a result of Mr. Hulon’s death. Mr. Hulon’s autopsy revealed high levels of amphetamines and methamphetamines in his system at the time of his death. According to the medical examiner, he also suffered from hypertensive and atherosclerotic disease, which contributed to his death.
Assistant Attorneys General reviewed the Michigan State Police investigator report, all available Lansing Police Department police reports, the autopsy report and photographs, the medical records from Sparrow Hospital, a toxicology report, and over 40 hours of video. The Department of Attorney General found insufficient evidence to justify criminal charges against the officers involved.
“The officers in this case did what they were supposed to do under the circumstances,” said Nessel. “I realize that fact provides little comfort to Mr. Hulon’s family as they grieve the loss of their loved one. Our job is to determine whether the officers’ actions constituted a criminal act, and we have found no evidence to support criminal charges.”
Paul Bulthouse, 39, was arrested by the Norton Shores Police Department on March 22, 2019, and brought to the Muskegon County Jail on a probation detainer. Mr. Bulthouse was classified as suicidal, which required he be monitored by officers every 15 minutes. His cell was always in close proximity to the county jail booking center and he was always visible on video monitors. Thirteen days later, Mr. Bulthouse died in custody at 5:30 am on April 4, 2019, after suffering many visible seizures in a five-and-a-half hour period.
The Department of Attorney General conducted a thorough and comprehensive review of all evidence presented – including more than eight hours of video, and extensive amounts of police reports and medical records. As a result of that investigation, five individuals have been charged with one count each of Involuntary Manslaughter – Failure to Perform a Legal Duty, a felony punishable by up to 15 years in prison, for their willful neglect of duty in caring for Mr. Bulthouse. Those charged are:
- Deputy Sgt. David Vanderlaan
- Deputy Jeffrey Patterson
- Deputy Crystal Greve
- Deputy Jamal Lane
- Former Wellpath Registered Nurse Aubrey Schotts
The Department of Attorney General’s thorough investigations of each tragedy revealed significant differences between Mr. Bulthouse’s death in the Muskegon County Jail and the death of Mr. Hulon in the Lansing Police Department’s Detention Center.
“Mr. Bulthouse died of gross neglect and due to complete disregard for human life by five individuals who were within feet of him but never acted to assist him,” said Nessel. “The safety of an individual in the custody of law enforcement is their responsibility. The lack of action taken to address Mr. Bulthouse in his time of medical need was criminal.”
The defendants were arraigned in the 60th District Court in Muskegon before Judge Harold Closz and released on personal bond. The probable cause conference is scheduled for April 15th and the preliminary examination will be April 22nd.
Please note: A criminal charge is merely an allegation and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.