‘We were wrong’: Calhoun County sheriff fires deputy after Jan. 2 arrest of Springfield man

January 22, 2021 | By: Trace Christenson | Battle Creek Enquirer – A Calhoun County Sheriff Department deputy has been fired after he arrested a man early this month while circulating petitions.

Sheriff Steve Hinkley said in a statement Friday afternoon that the deputy, who was not named, was fired following a review of the incident by the department’s Office of Professional Standards.

“We hold ourselves to high standards of professionalism to the communities we protect. When we are right, we are right. When we are wrong, we admit we are wrong. On January 2, we were wrong,” Hinkley said.

La’Ron Marshall, 44, was arrested on a charge of resisting and obstructing police after two deputies approached him about possible solicitation at Wyndtree Apartments in Springfield, where he lives.

At the time, Marshall was seeking signatures from residents for a tenants association.

One of the deputies questioned Marshall after someone complained about a man who was soliciting, which the deputy said was a violation if done without a permit.

Hinkley said his investigation showed Marshall was not soliciting and that Springfield does not have a regulation requiring a permit.

The felony charge or resisting and obstructing police was dismissed by Prosecutor David Gilbert.

Marshall was arrested after he refused to provide the deputy with identification. He spent the night in the Calhoun County jail. His two children, who were with him at the time, were taken home by a resident of the apartment complex.

“Transparency and honesty to our community is the foundation to all of our success,” Hinkley said in the statement. ” The conduct and actions of this case, in which Mr. Marshall was collecting signatures, does not represent our commitment to our community. The actions that Mr. Marshall took that day of circulating a petition are protected by our constitution. While some ordinances in communities, even within Calhoun County, prohibit vendors from selling items without a permit, no law — local, state or federal — prohibited Mr. Marshall from exercising his constitutional rights on January 2.”

Marshall said Friday afternoon, “things need to change and that is a start. I am happy. It’s messed up that he had to loose his job, but something has to happen.”

He said he would even like to see the deputy charged with assault.

“Like I said, it is not enough but it is a start. As a Black man we are under attack and you have to root out all the bad apples for the fruit to prosper.”

Hinkley and Undersheriff Tim Hurtt met with Marshall two weeks ago.

“We are reviewing procedure, policies, and training to ensure our community receives the best service from our department,” Hinkley said.