KALAMAZOO, MI — Kalamazoo Metro SWAT Team officers were justified in shooting a 48-year-old man at a Kalamazoo County mobile home park in April, the Kalamazoo County prosecutor has ruled.
As a result, the officers from six police jurisdictions will not face criminal charges in the April 18 shooting death of David Gino Teneyuque, Kalamazoo County Prosecutor Jeff Getting said Thursday, May 31. They are Michigan State Police Trooper Joshua Arnold, Kalamazoo County Sheriff’s Sgt. Ward Lawrence, Kalamazoo Department of Public Safety Sgt. Michael Ferguson, Western Michigan University Sgt. Troy Moratti, WMU Public Safety Officer Dylan Vandenberg and Kalamazoo Township Police Officer Zachery Zuk.
Teneyuque was killed by officers at the Pavilion Estates mobile home park. Deputies were called to 6522 Kingsville Drive at about 11:45 a.m. after a manager said a man and a woman, Teneyuque and his girlfriend, Chrystal Courtney, were parked in a home’s driveway in their van and refused to leave.
Upon contact with police, Teneyuque became argumentative and refused to leave his van.
“Deputies heard what they recognized was a handgun slide being engaged,” Getting said at a press conference Thursday. “They immediately retreated and requested backup.”
The Kalamazoo Metro SWAT Team was dispatched to the scene and troopers from the Michigan State Police also responded. They communicated with him from across the road and were able to convince him to allow his girlfriend to leave the van. Police negotiated with Teneyuque for about an hour to try to get him to surrender, but were unsuccessful.
Getting said during the initial contact with Teneyuque, officers saw Teneyuque was armed with what appeared to be at least one and sometimes two handguns. One gun appeared to be a semi-automatic and the other appeared to be a revolver. He also was carrying two loaded 9 mm magazines.
“Mr. Teneyuque remained agitated and confrontational during the entire time,” Getting said a press conference Thursday. “He refused to surrender. He told officers that he was not going to go back to jail and repeated multiple time that officers would have to shoot him.”
Officers attempted to take Teneyuque into custody using bean bag rounds and a police dog. They rolled a water bottle to him to get him away from the van in order to hit him with the bean bag rounds to disable him and send a police dog in.
When Teneyuque was struck with the two bean bag rounds, he pointed what appeared to be a semi-automatic handgun at police officers. Members of the SWAT Team and the state trooper responded to the threat by firing 15 rounds at Teneyuque, striking him nine times.
At his autopsy, Teneyuque’s cause of death was determined to be multiple gunshot wounds. Toxicology tests showed Teneyuque had methamphetamine, amphetamine and THC in his system.
In an interview with police following the shooting, Courtney said Teneyuque made multiple comments about not wanting to go back to prison and that he knew warrants were out for his arrest.
“She said that he made comments about ‘suicide by cop’ and that she heard him telling officers to shoot him,” Getting said. “She also said she heard him telling police that the guns he had were real.”
After shooting him, police attempted life-saving efforts on Teneyuque. He was taken to Bronson Methodist Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
Michigan State Police investigated the shooting, and all weapons involved were seized as evidence. Evidence seized at the scene included 15 0.223-caliber cartridge casings, three 12-gauge shotgun shells and two beanbag rounds fired by police. Police also found a 9 mm magazine with 15 rounds, a Crossman 357 revolver 0.177-caliber pellet gun and a baggie containing suspected marijuana in Teneyuque’s van. Police found a Crossman PSM45 Metal Slide Air Pistol BB gun and a 9 mm magazine with 15 rounds on the ground next to Teneyuque.
Getting said Lawrence, Ferguson, Moratti, Vandenberg and Arnold fired the shots and Zuk fired the non-lethal bean bag rounds.
Getting said he reviewed all of the investigative reports, photographs, video and audio records, including footage from at least 10 dash cameras from police cruisers at the scene, and has also visited the scene since the shooting.
At the scene, Getting said, “police had every reason to believe that the gun pointed at them was a semi-automatic handgun immediately capable of killing them, other officers and the other people present. They each had an honest and reasonable belief that they and others were in immediate danger of serious injury or death.”
Getting said the officers’ actions were necessary to protect them and others from danger.
“The seriousness of the threat posed, the need for immediate action and the reasonableness of the police action is further shown by the fact that multiple officers all saw the same thing and responded in the same way at the same time,” Getting said.
At the time of the standoff and shooting, Teneyuque had multiple warrants for his arrest, including a child support failure to appear out of Saginaw County, a bench warrant for failure to appear on a felony drug charge in Allegan County, a misdemeanor warrant for retail fraud and a felony drug warrant in Kalamazoo County and warrants for malicious destruction of property and a probation violation in Kent County.
Teneyuque had previous felony convictions for breaking and entering, retail fraud, second-degree home invasion, obstruction of justice, resisting police and fleeing police. He had served five prison sentences beginning in 1991, and was last released from prison in 2015.