Ogemaw Co. deputy charged for allegedly assaulting adult with autism

Published: Aug. 24, 2022 at 11:58 AM EDT
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ALGER, Mich. (WNEM) - Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel announced charges against an Ogemaw County sheriff’s deputy for an incident involving an adult with autism.

The charges come after Nessel’s department spent several months evaluating the case.

“Residents place their trust in the law enforcement community to ensure the public’s safety,” Nessel said. “Officers have a duty to intervene, especially when they observe excessive use of force used by a fellow officer that violates department policy and the law. Residents should be able to rely on the police to respond to calls for aid, free from assault.”

Deputy Matthew Viviano, with the Ogemaw County Sheriff’s Office, allegedly used excessive force against an adult with autism from the Premier Care Assisted Living Home, located at 5205 S. M-33 in Alger, on Sept. 8, according to the Attorney General’s Office.

Ogemaw County Deputy Michael O’Dell and Michigan State Police troopers Robert Lee, Justin Henderson, and Jo Hamlin responded to the scene.

Authorities at the facility said the victim could not effectively communicate and show signs of emotional distress. The victim’s movements did not appear to be assaultive or threatening, according to law enforcement at the facility.

Viviano forced the victim into a seated position, agitating and upsetting him, the Attorney General’s Office said, adding Viviano did this multiple times by pushing or forcing the victim to sit down.

When the victim did not comply, Viviano physically assaulted him, the Attorney General’s Office said.

Trooper Lee then deescalated the situation. Viviano and the victim were both separated when the assault ended, the Attorney General’s Office said. Viviano was taken outside, while the victim was taken to a local hospital for evaluation.

The three MSP troopers reported the incident.

“I would like to thank Michigan State Police Troopers Henderson, Lee, and Hamlin for reporting the unlawful actions of a fellow officer,” Nessel said. “Those who violate their oath to protect and serve must be held accountable. If their conduct is ignored or accepted, we risk eroding public trust in all law enforcement which in turn threatens the safety of our communities and our state.”

Viviano has been charged with misconduct in office, a five-year felony, as well as assault and battery, a 93-day misdemeanor.

The Attorney General’s Office stated it will not release any additional information while the investigation is ongoing.