Officer involved in death was sued for 2008 excessive force

Officer Derek Nugent was involved in May 2016 death of James Dunigan

KDPS, officer derek nugent, excessive force
This still images taken from 2008 surveillance video shows KDPS Officer Derek Nugent slamming a teen against the wall at police headquarters in May 2008.

KALAMAZOO, Mich. (WOOD) — One of the two Kalamazoo Department of Public Safety officers involved in the May death of a man while in custody was also at the center of a federal lawsuit for excessive force in 2008.

Video surveillance from 2008 showed Officer Derek Nugent slamming a 16-year-old’s head into the wall at KDPS headquarters. The teen, Michael Goldman, sustained facial injuries and broken teeth.

He had been arrested at the Kalamazoo Transportation Center for violating the rules and resisting arrest.

Goldman filed a federal lawsuit accusing Nugent of harassing him because he was black. In 2009, the City of Kalamazoo settled, agreeing to pay $175,000.

In May of this year, James Dunigan was pronounced dead at the Kalamazoo County Jail after Nugent and another officer, Eric Shaffer, brought him there. Surveillance video shows Dunigan on the floor of the cruiser, foaming at the mouth. At one point during the drive to the jail, one of the officers checked on Dunigan. In the video, the officer can be heard telling Dunigan, “You’re fine, you’re acting.”

A 2008 mug shot of James Ronald Dunigan from the Michigan Department of Corrections.
A 2008 mug shot of James Ronald Dunigan from the Michigan Department of Corrections.

Last week, KDPS Chief Jeff Hadley said the medical examiner’s office had determined Dunigan’s death was accidental. The ME said he died from a combination of heart and circulation problems, diabetes and kidney disease.

Hadley said both officers received a one-day suspension for failing to recognize Dunigan’s condition and not getting him medical treatment.

Dunigan’s brother, Autura Dunigan, said he thinks both officers should have been fired.

“Seeing my brother just die like that and a person having a chance to probably try to get him some attention so he don’t have to die so violently or alone,” Dunigan said. “It didn’t just hurt his life for one day. He gone forever because of this officer’s negligence.”

24 Hour News 8 has reached out Hadley seeking comment on the suspensions, including a call on Sunday, but has not heard back.

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