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AG Nessel Provides Update on Three Public Integrity Cases
October 07, 2021
LANSING - Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel is announcing the outcomes of three public integrity investigations, which resulted in charges in one of the cases involving law enforcement in Isabella County and clearing two of any criminal wrongdoing.
The cases were reviewed and evaluated by the Department's Public Integrity Unit (PIU). The investigating agency that worked alongside the Department is mentioned in the case summaries below.
"These cases are another example of the scrutiny our public integrity team gives all instances where officer conduct must be evaluated to ensure their oath to protect and serve is not neglected," Nessel said.
Charges against Christopher Cluley - Isabella County Sheriff's Department
On April 12, 2020, Sgt. Christopher Cluley was working in the Isabella County Jail as the administrator in charge when he interacted with an inmate during a cell transfer. The transfer was the result of a verbal disagreement between the inmate and another corrections officer.
Once the inmate was standing just outside of the cell, video evidence shows Cluley grabbed the inmate, spun him around and pushed him into the cell door before then pushing him into the wall next to the cell door. Then, after walking the inmate to the new cell, video evidence shows Cluley pushed the inmate to the ground, where the inmate cried out in pain upon crashing to the floor.
An x-ray later determined the inmate suffered a fractured left knee.
Cluley was placed on administrative leave the following day while the Isabella County Sheriff's Department conducted an internal investigation. The Isabella County Sheriff's Department then contacted the Michigan State Police (MSP) and MSP's Special Investigation Section completed their own investigation and referred the matter to the PIU.
Christopher Cluley is charged with the following in 76th District Court:
- two counts of misconduct in office, five-year felonies; and
- one count of aggravated assault, a one-year misdemeanor.
He appeared for arraignment Wednesday morning and is scheduled for a probable cause conference Oct. 14. He was given a $21,000 personal recognizance bond. Cluley was also ordered to have no contact with the victim, no assaultive conduct and is not allowed to leave the state without the Court's permission.
No charges in Ashley Novak case - Michigan State Police
On April 12, 2021, Michigan State Police troopers responded to a home in Houghton following a social media post by Ashley Novak in which she had a gun pointed at her head with the caption, "if the cops come, it's them, then me."
Novak had previous involvement with law enforcement and three days prior called 9-1-1 to request someone come to her residence before she "f-----g kills someone".
Police called the house phone after seeing the latest social media post. A man answered and reported hearing four gun shots. Novak was the only other person in the home at that time.
When officers arrived, it took about 20 minutes to locate Novak in a truck parked on the property, holding a gun. She ultimately exited the truck but refused to obey troopers' commands to drop the gun.
She began walking back toward the house where the male occupant was inside. As she opened the front door, still disobeying commands, three officers fired their weapons. She was shot in the midsection and treated for non-life threatening injuries at a local hospital.
An investigation conducted by MSP and the PIU team's review of all relevant reports determined the officers were justified in the shooting.
Separate to that review, a felony warrant has been authorized for charges against Novak for resisting and obstructing state troopers, felonious assault and felony firearm.
The Department is in the process of getting her arraigned on the felony warrant in this case.
The filing that determined charges are not warranted against officers involved in the Novak case can be read on the Department's website for additional information.
No charges following review of student arrest by Onaway H.S. Resource Officer
On Feb. 19, 2021, a resource officer at the Onaway High School - who is a deputy with the Presque Isle County Sheriff's Department - responded to a special education classroom where an 18-year-old student was throwing items including tables and chairs and threatened the teacher with a pair of scissors.
Initially, the resource officer sat with the student and was able to calm him down, but the student then became aggressive and threw a pencil box at the resource officer. The deputy again tried to calm the student down, but the student began advancing toward the resource officer. A physical altercation ensued and the two fell to the ground, where the resource officer attempted to gain control by laying on top of the student as he scratched at the deputy. The student also attempted to grab the deputy's taser and handgun and threatened to kill him.
Once handcuffed, the student's mother was notified that he would be taken to the county jail.
The Presque Isle County Prosecutor reviewed the arrest following the incident and determined the resource officer did not use excessive force but exercising an abundance of caution, requested the AG's office review the actions of the officer.
The use-of-force police policy at the Presque Isle County Sheriff's Office states that an officer may utilize non-lethal force to prevent injury and to stop assaultive behavior if an individual is acting in an assaultive or threatening manner and alternatives to use of force have failed or are unavailable.
After thorough review of the case, the PIU determined the resource officer acted appropriately and no charges are warranted.
The filing that determined charges are not warranted against the resource officer can be read on the Department's website for additional information.
Questions regarding current employment status of the officers involved in the above cases should be directed to their respective departments.
Please note: A criminal charge is merely an accusation and the defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty. The Department does not provide booking photos.